The 111th Congress has come to and end! And with it three federal bills have fallen to the titanic efforts of USARK and the Reptile Nation. As you know USARK engineered an 11th hour campaign to keep those who would destroy our young industry from adding S373, aka ‘The Python Ban’, to a large Natural Resources omnibus put together by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Although much pressure was applied by the Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and the Humane Society of the United States, USARK was able to block the addition of S373 to this massive bill.
As originally written S373 and its US House companion bill HR2811, collectively known as ‘The Python Ban’, would have added all 47 species of Python to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. USARK successfully engaged both bills at the staff and member levels. Both bills were subsequently amended and no longer identical making them more difficult to reconcile. Even though both bills passed out of their respective committees USARK was able to block several attempts at a vote to pass them.
Also, HR669 the ‘‘Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act’’ if passed would have banned most non-native animals in the USA. The bill was written largely to reflect the view of the Defenders of Wildlife and would have set up a “white list”, guilty until proven innocent approach to screening non-native animals. If the bill had passed it would have devastated Herpetoculture, Aquaculture, pets and exotic animals. USARK spearheaded the largest grassroots effort in more than 30 years generating almost 50,000 written letters opposing HR669. The pet industry and exotic animal interests contributed to the monumental grass roots effort. USARK led the charge that stopped HR669 in committee.
Now with the close of the 111th Congress all three threats to the Reptile Nation have been defeated. S373, HR2811 and HR669 are all dead! Andrew Wyatt, President of USARK, said, “I can’t think of a better present to give the Reptile Nation for Christmas!" But Wyatt added, “Although we have a great victory for Christmas we still have to deal with the Rulemaking at US FWS that would do the same thing as S373 & HR2811. And don’t be surprised if Defenders of Wildlife tries to introduce a bill in the Senate similar to HR669 in early 2011…"
So the fight will continue, but today we celebrate a great victory for the Reptile Nation! We now have the tools, experience and voice to mount effective strategies to protect our own interests.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year from USARK!