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Snake, Rattle, Roll: GOP Targets Python Rule

Discussion in 'Reptile Law - Legal News' started by EricRoscoe, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. EricRoscoe

    EricRoscoe Member

    Snakes alive! Giant pythons in the Everglades are the latest focal point in the Hill’s partisan squabble over federal regulations that House Republicans say are squeezing the nation’s job growth.

    At issue is a proposed rule from the Interior Department that would designate the Burmese python and eight other snake species as “injurious,” which would make it illegal to import them or transport them across state lines.

    The ban has been a pet cause of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who called for Interior to take action based on estimates that 100,000 or more pythons are dwelling in the Everglades, where scientists say they feast on herons, egrets and other native species.

    The issue exploded into a media sensation six years ago after a photographer captured an image of a decapitated python that had burst after swallowing a 6-foot alligator. Some scientists have warned that the snakes might eventually spread throughout much of the U.S., with potentially suitable climate for some species existing as far north as coastal Delaware or Oregon.

    But in a report released Wednesday, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee denounced the proposed rule as part of the Obama administration’s “regulatory tsunami.” They said the snake ban could “devastate a small but thriving sector of the economy.”

    Snake breeder and herpetologist David Barker testified at a committee hearing Wednesday that the rule would hurt the livelihoods of people like him.

    “It threatens as many as a million law-abiding American citizens and their families with the penalty of a felony conviction for pursuing their livelihoods, for pursuing their hobby, or for simply moving with their pet to a new state,” Barker told the panel.

    Barker also warned about the impact of the rule on existing pets. “What’s going to happen to the million or so animals that suddenly are without value?” he said. “The implementation of the proposed action may precipitate the greatest slaughter of pet animals in American history.”

    House Democrats scoffed at the idea that snake regulations would be major impediments to job growth.

    “With all due respect to our witnesses from the Association of Reptile Keepers, repealing a so-called job-killing regulation to allow more pythons, boa constrictors and anacondas into the United States is not the kind of bold, bipartisan solution Americans are looking for to help the economy,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the oversight panel.

    In a statement Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for Nelson (D-Fla.) said that “respectfully, the House Oversight Committee might just be wrong on this one.”

    “I mean, how many people line up outside Walmart on Black Friday to buy a python?” the spokesman said. “Rules like this are carefully weighed, narrowly targeted and aimed at protecting the public safety and welfare.”

    The Republicans highlighted the draft rule in their report, which denounced a host of Obama administration regulations.
    In discussing the python issue, the report describes the proposed snake regulation as “a solution in search of a problem,” pointing to contrary research from some scientists who found evidence that cold weather could keep the pythons from spreading much beyond subtropical South Florida.

    But Everglades National Park spokeswoman Linda Friar said in an interview that the python problem is real.

    “We’re extremely concerned,” she said. “The real turning point was when we saw that they started to breed in this habitat.”

    Friar added that the proposed federal rules would help deal with the threat, which some scientists blame on pets whose owners released them after becoming unable or unwilling to continue caring for the animals.

    While Florida has tightened its regulations on some python species — for example, requiring snakes to be implanted with a microchip identifying the owner — that doesn’t address everyone who buys the reptiles, Friar said.

    “You can go online and not purchase in a store in Florida,” she said. “You could probably do it in 10 minutes.”

    In and near the park, the number of Burmese pythons removed has soared from just two in 2000 to 367 in 2009. Last year, it dipped slightly to 322.

    “The Burmese python and these other alien snakes are destroying some of our nation’s most treasured — and most fragile — ecosystems,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement last year.

    Salazar added: “The Interior Department and states such as Florida are taking swift and common sense action to control and eliminate the populations of these snakes, but it is an uphill battle in ecosystems where they have no natural predators. If we are going to succeed, we must shut down the importation of the snakes and end the interstate commerce and transportation of them.”

    Aside from the Burmese pythons, Friar said, some other large, aggressive snake species have been turning up outside the park, including anacondas and African rock pythons.

    The African rock python has been known in rare cases to attack and even eat humans. Florida has yet to see any attacks on humans by pythons in the wild, although Nelson has pointed to one case in which a pet Burmese python that escaped from its cage strangled a 2-year-old girl elsewhere in the house.

    Snake, rattle, roll: GOP targets python rule - Bob King and Robin Bravender -
  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I'm not surprised, Bill Nelson has been trying to get federal bans on snakes for a long time. It's a problem in FL, so let FL make their own laws about how to deal with it, in my opinion.
  3. BeckyJ

    BeckyJ Elite Member

    Exactly my thoughts.

    I've had my fill of snake/reptile haters lately. Wish they would all shut up and leave the responsible pet owners alone..
  4. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    I was watching a show last week called python hunters, my first time seeing it. And it showed how alot of the burmese pythons are not surviving when there is a freeze in Florida. I can't understand how they would work their way up through the states its too cold for them.
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

  6. crepers86

    crepers86 Elite Member

    but no one ever seems to want to do anything about irresposible dog or cat owner huh?
  7. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    it seems to me that when there is an irresponsible cat or dog owner, they make laws protecting the cat or dog (which is why people CAN get arrested and charged for abusing cats and dogs.)

    When there is an irresponsible reptile owner, they try to pass laws banning the reptiles.

    In the end, without the funding, it doesn't matter if they try to ban them, or make laws limiting who can own them. Without money, they can't enforce anything.

    It would be nice to see more laws that protected reptiles from abuse - but in most cases, the person can only be prosecuted if they owned it illegally to begin with, and then, only for possessing it. Ir they can be prosecuted for damage it did, but I haven't heard about cases of people being prosecuted for neglecting a snake, even though it is a common enough crime.
  8. crepers86

    crepers86 Elite Member

    I did on Animal Cops: Houston. They found a person that left a Red Tail in an apartment. The Snake did actually get to a good home... They had a lady on that one episode to that was explaining and teaching the staff about snake rescue.

    I was talking to the guy that works at the pet store about that ban they are trying to put on the snake trade, making it illaegel to sell, and transport snakes if its pass. He said he don't see it happening with so many herp orgs. He told me just look at repticon alone then count how many local expose there are in Houston we have at least 3 that I know of.
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    there are cases, but they are rare. I'm working with a lady now who has a boa that was neglected for 2 years, and found in a 55 gallon cage filled with bags of trash. No charges pressed for animal cruelty there. She got the boa when her father was cleaning an apartment he had evicted the previous tenants from.
  10. BeckyJ

    BeckyJ Elite Member

    The law that was being "enforced" here locally was passed without public knowledge. In fact, it was not brought to the attention of anybody until they started enforcing it. After all of the snakes were taken last month the pet shop manager and I started digging and found out that it was added to the county codes in July this year, but not even the heads of 3 different city councils knew about it before the "humane" society started their snake hunt.
  11. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    That makes me sick. I don't see how they can call themselves a humane society when they freely admit they cannot house the snakes, and confiscated them. No real thought to what's best for the animal here, only what is the best publicity stunt.
  12. BeckyJ

    BeckyJ Elite Member

    You know, we never had any problems with them before that one guy (the snake hater) started working there. In the past if your large snake escaped you could call them up and they would help out. They would charge a small fee, but they wouldn't take your animal. Then they hire this guy and all the sudden new county codes are appearing out of no where and he's going around taking people's snakes for no reason. All very shady and extremely upsetting. The new codes were even hidden from the local pet shops, that were unknowingly selling the regulated snakes!

    I swear I live in the crooked-est county in the state, except the one just north of me.

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