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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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Federal Python Ban Alert--Urgent

For those unaware, there have been some Federal bills lying around that attempt to circumvent the normal procedures for adding species to the Lacey Act. One of them has just been 'reawakened', and anyone who wants to retain the right to freely transport boa constrictors, green anacondas, or reticulated pythons is in danger of losing that right. Boas are one of the most popular pet constrictors, and millions own them. Stymied by the need to meet the Information Quality Act if impacts exceed 10 million dollars, the FWS added only 4 species to the Lacey Act (Burmese, yellow anaconda, and both African Rock Pythons). This bill sidesteps the entire requirement for scientific evidence or justification.

-------------------------

RED ALERT: HR511 Stop Python BAN NOW!
HR 511, a bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the importation of various injurious species of constrictor snakes; Indian python, Python molurus, including the Burmese python, Python molurus bivittatus; reticulated python, Broghammerus reticulatus; Northern African python,Python sebae; Southern African python, Python natalensis; Boa constrictor; yellow anaconda, Eunectes notaeus; DeSchauensee’s anaconda, Eunectes deschauenseei; green anaconda, Eunectes murinus; and the Beni anaconda, Eunectes beniensis, in the US House of Representatives, was introduced January 26, 2011 by Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) .

Congressman Rooney has taken action to move HR 511! This bill seeks to add 9 constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. HR 511 has been scheduled for a Markup Hearing before the US House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday February 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM EST.

http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/markups112.html

>>There is very little time to voice opposition to this bill that could devistate the Reptile Community. Please participate in the USARK Call In Campaign TODAY!<<

PHONE CAMPAIGN:

Talking Points:

  • Will destroy thousands of jobs and small family businesses; $104 million annual economic impact.
  • Criminalize the actions of over 1 million American Citizens; Lacey Act felons.
  • Federal action to address a localized problem in South Florida is unnecessary; the State of Florida and US Fish & Wildlife have already taken draconian measures.
  • Underlying science has been criticized by scientists from around the world.
  • Creates a massive animal welfare problem, potentially displacing millions of animals.

Key Members of House Judiciary Committee:

Lamar Smith (R-TX)- 202-225-4236
Sensenbrenner (R-WI)- 202-225-5101
Coble (R-NC)- 202-225-3065
Issa (R-CA)- 202-225-3906
Gohmert (R-TX)- 202-225-3035
Chaffetz (R-UT)- 202-225-7751
Gowdy (R-SC)- 202-225-6030
Poe (R-TX)- 202-225-6565
Goodlatte (R-VA)- 202-225-5431

DO IT NOW!!!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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The bill was passed the House, and will be up for a vote--please contact your representatives now. Those own any reptile, or support pet ownership, this means you. This bill will affect all owners of reptiles, but particularly (of course) those who own boa constrictors of ALL subspecies. (red-tail boas, etc). Boas are one of the most popular constrictor species in the pet trade, and there are millions of them being kept all across the country.

If this bill passes, and you own a boa, you will be guilty of a felony if you take your animal with you when you move to a different State.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 06:22 PM
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Just to clarify, this isn't a "ban".


No one is coming to get your snakes, and it is not illegal to buy or sell them within your own state.


Setting aside all of the arguments as to appropriateness or necessity of this listing....


The proposed listing will have no effect on the majority of pet owners, unless you plan to move your listed snake (for most folks its Burmese Pythons or Rock Pythons) from one state to another.


For breeders whose livelihood depends on shipping one or more of these constrictors from one state to another, this will be a devasting blow. Many have shifted to exporting their snakes, as this is still legal.


Then again, this listing was first proposed in 2006. Most should have made some type of preparation for the eventuality of the listing. If they haven't, it's not like they haven't been warned that it could happen.


The writing has been on the wall for the past couple of years, so no one should be surprised by the listing. The only real surprise was that all nine species weren't listed.


But again, for most people on these boards (I don't know of any Burmese or Rock Python breeders), this should have little or no effect on their lives.

And finally, if you do sneak across a state line with your pet Burm, it is not a felony. Violations of the Lacey Act injurious species statutes are misdemeanors (still a crime, none the less...).


On the USFWS web page, the Lacey Act United States Code (USC) is listed as a .pdf file, in case you'd like to read it for yourself.


Quote:
"Whoever violates this section, or any regulation issued pursuant thereto, shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than six months, or both."

Just FYI, a felony is a crime punishable by more than 1 year in prison, less than that is classified as a misdemeanor.



Bob



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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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To clarify, this is NOT the rule change that the FWS just made to list the Burmese Python, North African Rock Python, South African Rock Python, and Yellow Anaconda. That is a done deal, those animals have been added, and it goes into effect next month.

THIS bill will circumvent the normal procedures for adding species to the Lacey Act, and will add ADDITIONAL SPECIES:
The Reticulated Python, The Green Anaconda, 2 other species of Anaconda that no one actually keeps, and the Boa Constrictor.

No, they will not take your animals, but you will NOT be legally permitted to take them with you if you move from one State to another.

"Felony criminal sanctions are provided for violations involving imports or exports, or violations of a commercial nature in which the value of the wildlife is in excess of $350. A misdemeanor violation was established, with a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both. Civil penalties up to $10,000 were provided. However, the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987 increased the fines under the Lacey Act for misdemeanors to a maximum of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations. Maximum fines for felonies were increased to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations."

So, it depends on the market value of your animal.

More information:
"For example, the importation of cockatoo eggs, bear parts, a tiger skeleton, salmon, or live snakes in violation of customs laws is an automatic felony violation of the Lacey Act."

Yes, taking your boa with you when you move to another State may well make you a felon, if this bill passes.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 09:00 PM
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Again, this is not a ban.


It means that if you own one of these species, you may not travel from one state to another. If you never travel interstate with your pet snake, this will have no impact on you.


It places the originally proposed species under Section 42(a)(1) of title 18, United States Code (the Lacey Act) as "Injurious Species".


As far as the penalty goes, the key phrase is "violations of a commercial nature ".


If you are not a breeder, or looking to sell your snake, a violation will still be a misdemeanor. Non-commercial violations are misdemeanors. Only commercial, criminal violations are eligible to be prosecuted as felonies.


The government can chose to pursue either civil penalties or criminal penalties. Civil penalties do not involve jail time and are not considered felonies or misdemeanors. Only criminal prosecution can result in incarceration. In rare circumstances the government can (and will) pursue both criminal as well as civil penalties. I've never, ever seen maximum penalties or fines for a wildlife crime, anywhere in the US for even (for what I thought were) the most egregious of crimes.


So no, as long as you are not in the pursuit of a commercial enterprise, if you get caught taking your python on vacation with you, or crossing the state line to the vet, those are not felony violations.



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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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"Felony criminal sanctions are provided for violations involving imports or exports".
I wouldn't be too certain of that. Are you a lawyer? The above language doesn't sound like what you are saying. Importing the animal into a State, by the text above, would be a felony.
This has been stated all over the reptile community, and by USARK, and has not yet been contradicted by anyone, as you have done.

Either way, it means that if you have to move to another State--if you're in the military, etc--you cannot legally take your pet with you. This is going to create a huge problem for shelters.

We still have time, however, to stop it. It has a way to go, yet, before it can become a law. Folks need to write and call their Representative.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 11:18 PM
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My guess you will be able to take your snake to another state. You may l just have to register and have permits to do so.

just my guess though.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry, but that guess is wrong. If these animals are added to the injurious species list of the Lacey Act, you will not be able to take them to another State.

Permits are ONLY given to qualified zoos, educational institutions, and scientific research institutions.
They will not give one to a pet owner.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2012, 06:31 PM
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Kendalle, he is correct. At this point, there will be no permits issued for transport of pet animals under the Lacey Act.


I am not a lawyer, (something a lot more fun) ...but I do know a bit about the Lacey Act.


From the USFWS website. The links here are pretty comprehensive if you have any questions:
http://www.fws.gov/le/InjuriousWildl...usWildlife.cfm



In particular, let me point you to this page. This has some actual examples of previous violations and it lists some of the enforcement actions:
http://www.fws.gov/le/InjuriousWildl...nforcement.pdf


Quote:
The maximum penalty for violating the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act is 6 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The more severe penalties you may be thinking of are trafficking (smuggling) offenses. These fall under different statutes and have much more severe penalties:
Quote:
An individual violating this section of the Lacey Act faces up to a $250,000 criminal fine and 5 years in prison; the maximum fine level jumps to $500,000 for a business.

Attempting to smuggle animals is a much more serious crime. There is also an accompanying higher standard required of the State in this type of prosecution.


However, the fact still remains that in no way is this a ban. Noone will be knocking on your door coming for your animals. If you keep your activities within the state (and international) borders, this law will have little or no effect on you.


What it SHOULD do, is make people think before they purchase one of these animals. Which is something they should do anyway. For instance, "Will I be moving or going away to school?" "If I do, what's going to become of my animal?"


Far too, too many people purchase animals like this with no thought about what the future will hold. (As you know well, Kendalle, with iguanas). A tortoise is another animal that, while not illegal, has long term implications upon purchase.


So, if it makes people think before they buy, I think this is a good thing. If not, then the only sympathy I have is for the animal who gets confiscated and probably euthanized because of the owner's thoughtlessness.


Bob



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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2012, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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The sympathy _I_ have is for the folks who have invested in Burm morphs, and were working on projects to create wonderful new colors and patterns. For the lady working with half-dwarfs, and for all the folks out there who have dwarf Burmese projects. The folks who invested money into a hobby business, and had part of their family's future tied up in these animals, which will now be much more difficult for them to sell, and may even bankrupt them. The vast majority of these people didn't do anything wrong.

Yes, it takes a knowledgeable person to keep a standard Burmese python, but there are many folks out there who own them, and who are doing it right. They all suffer due to this rule change.
The owners of yellow anacondas all suffer, due to this rule change. The yellow anaconda isn't exactly a tremendously dangerous animal. They're really about the size of a boa.
Dwarf Burmese owners have animals that are small and quite simple to care for...and now, they won't be able to take them along if they must move.

The rule change has destroyed many small family businesses, and it's put thousands of animals' lives in jeopardy...for nothing.
All of that...to TRY to make people 'think before they buy'? I'm sorry, but no. It's not worth it.
Oh...and it's also not what the Lacey Act is for.

If people need to be better educated about reptiles....then we should educate them, not take away their rights.

You've given thought to the baby Burms that will be hatched this coming year...a little thought, at least, to hope they go to homes where people have thought things through in advance.
What thought have you given to the thousands of animals people already own? To the ones owned by military folks?
Responsible owners who KNEW what they were getting, and are providing well for their animals, will be forced to try to sell their animal in a crashing market, or have it euthanized, if they want to avoid breaking the law by taking it with them when they move.

You think this is a good thing? I'm sorry, I just don't understand that mentality.

The problem will be astronomically worse if Retics and Boas are added to the list as well.

I have a pair of young super-dwarf reticulated pythons. These animals do not exceed 8 feet as adults, and they're quite simple to care for. They're great little animals. If retics were added to the Lacey Act, I wouldn't be able to take them along when I move back to Wyoming.
This isn't due to any bad decisions on my part.
It's purely due to the bad decisions of those in our government, and the ease with which the media can sway public opinion.

So, no. There's no silver lining in this particular cloud. Any perceived benefit here is like sugar-coating poop. The same effect could have been achieved without the destruction, using a different method.

These rule changes and bans are purely about politics and money. They will be far more destructive to the animals than any help they might incidentally be, and they're destructive to people. They do nothing to help the environment.
It's lose/lose, all the way. The animals, devalued and prices lowered, will be the biggest losers.
That should matter to people here.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-01-2012, 08:38 PM
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We'll probably always disagree on this. I'm not going to argue the legitimacy of whether the animals should or shouldn't be on the Injurious List. It really doesn't matter at this point, ...that boat has sailed.


I think the hobby became an industry, with no rules and very little in the way of ethics. They chose not to unite and clean themselves up, ...so the government is doing it. Not a big surprise.


I agree there are pet owners who are getting the raw end of the deal. Unfortunately, life isn't always fair, and sometimes you pay for the misdeeds of others.


As far as the breeders go, it's not like they didn't know this day was coming. There is no way there were EVER going to be enough qualified homes for the number of animals being imported, bred and sold. EVER. Yet the animals came in wholesalers sold them, pet stores and breeders bought them and breeders pumped out more and more moprhs like there was no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is here and guess what....


Too many bred because they could, not because there was a need. ...and when they had excess animals, they sold them to anyone with the cash to buy them. Regardless of whether the animal would be in a suitable home or not. Putting money over the welfare of the animals is the whole reason this came about. The breeders and dealers are the real culprits here, not the government.



Sorry about your animals, but I'm wondering why you bought them in the last five years, especially if you thought that you'd breed them or move to another state. Because there has been pending legislation and the rule to list them as Injurious since 2006. So, yeah that was a bad decision on your part if you planned to move back to Wyoming with them. Don't blame the government. The USFWS didn't make you buy snakes that were candidates for the Injurious Species list.


And no, I don't have much sympathy for the folks who have baby burms or eggs. If you continue to breed an animal that you know is going to soon be illegal to ship, ...well, what does that say about your common sense? ...it just emphasizes my point about this industry? What were those folks thinking? The Government didn't put those pairs together. SOME folks might have thought it a smart move to hold off on breeding for a season or three until you find out if you are going to be able to sell those animals. Maybe that's just me.


Quote:
If people need to be better educated about reptiles....then we should educate them, not take away their rights.
Now you think about education? Now? People have been trying to "educate" owners for years. It hasn't worked because it's the breeders who needed education. Not on how to keep the animals, but WHEN to breed and WHO to sell to.


As long as this industry keeps pointing fingers at everyone except themselves, they are just going to find themselves worse and worse off.


Like they say, when you find yourself in a hole, ...the first thing to do is quit digging.


So, yeah I see a silver lining. There are way too many animals for the homes available. I think euthanasia is better than many of the other options (starving in poor homes; neglect; being sold to 12 year old kids with no concept of what they're getting; being released by ignorant owners; ending up in a too small enclosure in a rescue... I could go on.)


Yeah, I'm angry we've ended up here. But I'm angry with the folks who caused this. I'm angry that the government has to clean it up because they aren't good at things like this. It should have never come to this.


Bob



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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Bob, I'm sorry, but I just don't see the pessimistic view you're painting. What I see is an industry (which is not a dirty word) that is actually working on improving itself, and has made dramatic progress. Is it perfect yet? I doubt people will ever be perfect, but it's certainly BETTER.

Take a step back in time a decade, and tell me that things aren't better now than they were then, when it comes to how reptiles are cared for, and peoples' expectations for them. Two decades? It's a WORLD of difference. Education IS working.

You keep insisting that this has something to do with how breeders have handled their sales, but it absolutely doesn't. The market drives how many animals can be sold, not breeders. If breeders failed to produce enough animals to meet the demand, more would simply have been imported. I think this is a very essential point that you're MISSING.

I traded for my super-dwarf retics because any legislation against them was stagnant. Once the big push came to try to add the 9, I was incensed, and did my part to fight it...and USARK won that battle, and saved my retics, if not the Burms. These bills are an attempt to circumvent the process. I will continue to fight for my animals, because I do have the right to own them, and because I LIKE them.

I believe people should have the right to own the pets they wish to own, provided they can provide adequate care for them. You apparently don't think anyone should own anything...that's really what I'm hearing from you, that no one should be allowed to own these animals, because a few have turned out to be bad people who didn't care for them.

That's the fundamental problem I have with the radical animal rights people--their solution to a problem is to take everything away, so that EVERYONE loses, rather than just the wrongdoers. I didn't agree with that when I was a little kid and it was used by adults, and I don't agree with it now.

I don't know why you believe that there aren't enough qualified homes for the animals being produced. It doesn't take a super-genius to care for a snake properly. It doesn't take a saint. It's simple.

What have you done to improve the issue of education among consumers? Breeders can ask questions (and most of us do--there isn't some widespread campaign to sell animals to anyone who flashes money, the way you seem to believe there is), but in the end, it's up to the consumer to tell the truth and do things right.
What have you done to push pet stores to raise care standards and educate their employees so they can give better advice?
I've seen people doing these things in the reptile community.

Are you doing anything to help, or just complaining about the mess, and blaming the mess when politicians try to pass legislation to take away our animals for completely unrelated reasons?

They aren't trying to ban constrictors because the public doesn't know how to care for them. They're trying to ban constrictors so they can get funding for studies the way they did on Guam, and so they can parade before the public, having vanquished a boogeyman that THEY created. Because HSUS WANTS to take away the rights of the people to have any direct relationship with any animal, and reptiles are vulnerable. Because some environmental groups WANT to eliminate all non-native animals from the country.

This has NOTHING to do with how many homeless reptiles there are out there (not the huge numbers you seem to believe, by the way). It has nothing to do, even, with irresponsible owners. It's about POLITICS.

For my part, I will continue to do my best to educate people, and encourage them to take proper care of their reptiles, and to fight for their right to keep them. I don't see humans as apart from the rest of nature, and I don't see our keeping reptiles as detrimental to them. On the contrary, I count their numbers in captivity just as I would their numbers in the wild. I believe we do far more good for them than harm, and their survival rates in captivity are comparable to or better than their survival rates in the wild. We aren't the monsters you make us out to be, and they aren't the victims you claim they are. We're doing better than mother nature, and we're improving steadily. That should be acknowledged.

Perfection is unachievable. That does not mean you give up. No doubt I haven't changed your mind on this issue, but fortunately, there are many more folks who believe as I do.
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