As some of you may know, the FWS, supported by Ken Salazar of FL and HSUS and PETA, has announced the addition of 4 species of constrictor snake to the Lacey Act's list of Injurious Wildlfie.
First, I would like to explain how this came about, and how they got away with it, so people understand what we're up against.
Burmese pythons, like so many other non-native species were found breeding in the Everglades. The senator, along with the media, conspired to make this a 'Big Deal'. Melaleuca trees, however much more damaging they may be, just don't capture public interest the way giant snakes do. The snakes were accused of 'decimating' the Everglades, and eating everything in sight, and of posing a threat to children and pets. Next, bills were proposed to add all non-native species to the Lacey Act.
This bill, which would have banned everything from gerbils and parakeets to the pythons, was defeated.
A series of additional bills were proposed--first, one attempting to list ALL python species. Then, one attempting to list 9 species of very large constrictors.
All were defeated, with the help of the reptile community, and the lobbying organization USARK. (United States Association of Reptile Keepers).
Now, they've gotten clever. By taking only 4 of the species they want to list, and listing them first, separately, they have lowered the estimated economic impact of the addition below the level which requires a Congressional vote.
Within just a couple of months, it will become illegal to do the following:
Import these animals
Transport these animals across State lines (in any fashion, for any reason).
(This ban will not affect owning, breeding, or selling the animals within the State they currently reside in, if those things are currently legal).
Zoos, Educational Institutions, and Researchers can apply for a permit to move 'injurious wildlife' for a $25 filing fee, but private owners and breeders cannot.
The species affected are the following:
North African Rock Python
South African Rock Python
The 5 other species on the original bill are safe, but only for now. If they decide to continue using this loophole, they could attempt to list each of the remaining species separately to avoid the economic impact cap.
The species remaining at risk are the following:
DeSchauensee's anaconda (A snake pretty much unknown in captive collections)
Beni anaconda (Another snake that doesn't really exist in captive collections).
Boa Constrictor (all subspecies).
We have no particular reason to think they will stop there. After all, if they discover that this works, why should they?
USARK is preparing a lawsuit to fight this ruling, which was supported only by a contrived internal document created by Rodda and Reed in the USGS. The non-peer-reviewed 'Constrictor Report' stated that these snakes could colonize the entire lower half of the US. It has been denounced by all non-USGS scientists as being biased, poor science, and not fit for use as a document to support any legislation. Independent studies have shown that these snakes cannot survive anywhere in the mainland US other than Florida, and, possibly the extreme southern tip of California, due to temperature extremes in the winter, and habitat requirements (obviously rainforest snakes don't live in the desert).
What is clear to anyone with common sense is that preventing the interstate transportation and importation of these animals will have 0 impact on the animals in the Everglades. Florida has already passed a State law banning the animals, so it is already illegal to import them into the State. Barring them from being moved around the rest of the country will do nothing to further that, and certainly will not remove any breeding animals from the Everglades. These animals are captive bred in every State in which they are legal.
Instead, those who bred these species will be driven out of business. Burmese pythons lay large clutches of eggs, and breeders counted on the ability to sell them online and ship them to their new homes, to stay in business. Hundreds of small businesses may fail because of this rule change. Perhaps worse still, responsible owners of these animals will not be legally permitted to take their animals with them, if they must move from one State to another.
If you disagree with this ban, and the underhanded and deceptive way that it was achieved, please write to your senator, and to the FWS, and let them know how you feel. Stay professional. If you want to help in the efforts to overturn the ban, join USARK, and stay updated on their community efforts to fight this damaging law.
It will not help the Everglades, or the animals, and will do (and has already done) tremendous harm to families.