Friday, December 11, 2009

Ban on Pythons and Boas

Yesterday the Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works held a business meeting on S.373, the "Python Ban" bill. This bill, in its current form, would list 9 species of python and boa as injurious species covered by the Lacy Act. This would ban the import, export and interstate transport of these species.

The supporters of the bill cite the problem with escaped Burmese pythons in the Everglades and a questionable report by the USGS. They also are very vocal about the tragic death of a 2-year old girl in Florida. She was killed this year by a Burmese python that escaped when the girl's father failed top properly secure it's cage. Interestingly, the bill, if passed into law, would do nothing to either eradicate the escaped pythons in Florida or make toddlers safe from large constrictors, as there is no provision to remove any pythons already existing in the U.S.

S.373 was voted by voice vote to move out of committee and on to the Senate. If voted on and passed by the Senate and House of Representatives it will then move on to President Obama to be signed into law.

USARK, the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, is working with Senators and EPW Committee Staff to change or kill this and other threatening bills.

For the average pet owner, it would appear that this is of little importance. But it's not. And for the avid reptile community this is disastrous. Many breeders of boas and pythons would be forced into bankruptcy, as interstate sale and trade is vital to their livelihoods. A domino effect would ensue as all the businesses that support these breeders would lose out on millions of dollars in revenue. A typical reptile breeder spends money on rodents, freezers (for storing rodents), heating (pads, rope, tape, lights and or RHPs), caging and rack systems, paper towels and other cleaning supplies, bedding, water bowls, shipping containers and other shipping supplies, shipping costs, electricity costs, office supplies, medications and supplements, veterinary bills, advertising, taxes, etc.
Think only the big-time breeders spend a significant amount of money? I only own 19 snakes, not including recent hatchlings, and I spend almost $2,000 a year to keep them alive, healthy, growing and breeding. That works out to about $100 per snake per year. To put that into perspective, I don't know of any breeder who makes a living with less than 200 adult snakes. Big-time breeders and industry pioneers sometimes have thousands of animals.
We're talking about serious economic impact, which WILL affect the average pet owner.

Furthermore, the authors and supporters of this bill are using this as a stepping stone to introduce more bills calling for the ban of other species of reptiles, including ALL pythons, certain species of fish, birds, mammals and invertebrates. They are implying that importing and trading in these animals will automatically threaten the ecosystems of the entire country. There is no scientific evidence to support this.
So one has to ask why? What's the real agenda here?
It is a fact that S.373 and related bills are supported by the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). You thought they were all about saving puppies, right? So did I. The ugly truth is that the position of high level members of HSUS is that NO animal should be kept as a pet. They consider caging any animal as cruelty.
Don't confuse HSUS with your state or local humane society. They are not affiliated.
It's also a fact that Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, the sponsor of S.373, stands to lose huge amounts of Everglades restoration money if he can't show some kind of results.
And guess when the five-fiscal-year Strategic Plan by the USGS (supporters of the bill) ends: 2009. They're trying to get token results to get more funding.

USARK, the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, is working with Senators and EPW Committee Staff to change or kill S.373 and other threatening bills.
I urge you all to join USARK and contact your senators and representatives. The cost is minimal and the stakes are high.

These are the species currently affected by S.373 are:

1. Python molurus
2. Broghammeras reticulatus
3. Python sebae
4. Python natalensis
5. Boa constrictor
6. Eunectes notaeus
7. Eunectes deschauenseei
8. Eunectes murinus
9. Eunectes beniensis

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