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Styx
10-31-2009, 01:13 AM
Latest news from USARK. They'll never rest until they've banned reptile keeping it seems. They're after the pythons, again.

Please join the Reptile Nation in a Congressional Call In Opposing HR2811 aka The Python Ban November 2, 3 & 4. If you value your Boas & Pythons you will participate and encourage your entire sphere of influence to do the same. There is a Hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism & Homeland Security scheduled for November 5th. Please call in and OPPOSE HR2811.

As originally written HR2811 would add the entire genus python to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. This would effectively end the Import, Export and Interstate Transport of any animals listed. In July USARK was successful in narrowing the scope of the bill by removing most pythons with an amendment offered by Congressman Tom Rooney. The amendment would limit the bill to the Burmese Python and the African Python. In addition committee staff agreed in principle to further amend the bill to allow the captive bred trade in these two snakes to continue. To date this promise has not been kept and the HR2811 has not been amended to allow for captive bred trade.

Meanwhile the USGS Risk Assessment of 9 Large Constricting Snakes has been released. The Humane Society of the United States is lobbying hard to have HR2811 amended to include the entire genus python, as well as the four species of anaconda, and Boa Constrictor referred to in the USGS report. Do not assume that HSUS will not be successful in getting HR2811 amended to reflect these changes. Only USARK and the Reptile Nation stand between HSUS and the destruction of our community.

Our science experts have done a cursory analysis of the USGS report and characterize it as “…loose with numerous mistakes and inaccuracies. It is an oversimplification of a very complicated topic.” The bottom line is it is not the solid piece of science HSUS wanted to use as a tool to break the back of our community. However that has not stopped them from mischaracterizing it as just that.

What can I do?

***November 2,3 & 4 Call In and Fax the Subcommittee and voice your opposition to HR2811. Be polite & professional!

Script:
My name is____. I oppose HR2811. It is overly simplistic and politically driven. It is poorly thought out and sacrifices good science for political expediency. The negative economic impact for my family and business would be significant. Please oppose HR2811. Thank you for your consideration.

Call List:
Sponsor:

Congressman Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Sponsor
Washington DC: phone 202-225-4506; fax 202-226-0777
Miami: phone 305-690-5905; fax 305-690-5951

Cosponsors:

Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-1313; fax 202-225-8398
Ft. Lauderdale: phone 954-733-2800

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3801; fax 202-225-0351
Atlanta: phone 404-659-0116

Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3001; fax 202-225-5974
Boca Raton: phone 561-988-6302; fax 561-988-6423

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (HI-2)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-4906; fax 202-225-4987
Honolulu: phone 808-541-1986

Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-5792; fax 202-225-3132
Punta Gorda: phone 941-575-9101; fax 941-575-9103

Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism & Homeland Security:

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-8351; fax 202-225-8354
Richmond: phone 804-644-4845

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3072; fax 202-225-3336
San Jose: phone 408-271-8700

Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3816; fax 202-225-3317
Houston: phone 713-691-4882

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-2201; fax 202-225-7854
Los Angeles: phone 323-757-8900

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3265; fax 202-225-5663
Memphis: phone 901-544-4131

Congressman Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-2615; fax 202-225-2154
San Juan: phone 787-723-6333

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-5431; fax 202-225-9681
Roanoke: phone 540-857-2672

Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-5716; fax 202-226-1298
Gold River: phone 916-859-9906

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-3035; fax 202-226-1230
Tyler: phone 903-561-6349

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-6565; fax 202-225-5547
Beaumont: phone 409-212-1997

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-6365; fax 202-226-1170
Chesapeake: 757-382-0080; fax 757-382-0780

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-5635
New York: phone 212-367-7350

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-7931; fax 202-226-2052
Pembroke Pines: phone 954-437-3936; fax 954-437-4776

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-6616
Brooklyn: phone 718-743-0441

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL)
Washington DC: phone 202-225-4061; fax 202-225-5603
Chicago: phone 773-267-5926; fax 773-267-6583

MPLexus301
11-06-2009, 01:53 PM
As someone who currently lives in the Southeastern part of our country, and who has previously lived in Florida (Tampa, Boca, Jacksonville, Coral Springs), I can personally attest to the problem that these huge snakes present on local ecosystems and communities.

In this case, impending legal action is the result of irresponsible owners and people who are ill prepared for animals that get as large as these constrictos do, NOT the responsible pet owners that we often see and converse with at industry events.

The exotic pet trade is huge in Florida (don't know about TX) and I have personally had friends who wanted a snake as a pet that later turned to disaster. Dad goes to Jim Bob's Reptile Stand, picks up a Columbian Red Tail Boa for $80 and heads home to wrap it up under the Christmas tree. Fast forward two years and the snake is too big and requires too much money to continue having as a pet. Nobody will take the snake, the pet store certainly won't take it back, and the easy thing to do is let it go. Unfortunately for MANY pet owners, not just irresponsible snake owners, letting a pet go is the easiest thing to do when you can no longer care for it. This unfortunately happens with dogs and cats all too frequently.

The snake is released into the Florida wilderness which just so happens to be a perfect habitat- it's warm, dense, humid, and has a very solid prey base. In no time at all the snake is living a better life outdoors than it ever was in a cage as a pet. Take this instance and multiply it by hundreds or thousands, and add in some of the larger pythons and boas, even anacondas. Now consider what prolific breeders these animals are.

These snakes have the ability to reak havoc on local populations and even harm humans in certain circumstances. As the snakes breed and reproduce they come into competition with other native species and will likely wipe them out along the way as these are super-predators; They are incredible strong, very hardy, multiply quickly, and grow very large. As has been seen before, these animals even have the ability to consume alligators, dogs, deer, and other large prey.

I will never forget when I was a young child and my mother and I were driving through the neighborhood (Tampa, FL) and a massive snake flopped off the sidewalk and into the road. We stopped the car to have a look and sure enough it was an adult Burmese python crossing the road heading to a different water hole. I lived in a neighborhood with several children who were outdoors frequently and many people who liked to fish in the lakes in our community. I don't have to explicitly state that this is a recipe for disaster...it is plain to see. You can talk to many people in Florida who have, or knows someone who has, found a python or constrictor somewhere in the wild.

The reptile community is up in arms over this bill because we are all so familiar with responsible snake owners and fear that their freedoms will be infringed upon, but it is of paramount importance to consider the irresponsible pet owners and the potential for harm that they pose. We aren't talking about an animal like a leopard gecko, bearded dragon, or king snake that has almost zero potential to harm a human if released- we are talking about animals that can grow to an excess of 25 feet and swallow an adult human whole. This is no different than owning a tiger, a bear, an alligator, or any other animal that has the ability to inflict serious damage to a human being. These animals are very dangerous in the wild.

I don't think that we will ever see the law come as far as trying to regulate geckos or lesser snakes because they simply don't post the same type of threat that these massive constrictors do. There is a very obvious ability for these animals to kill a human being in the wrong circumstance, or to wipe out native species as their populations expand. I have been following this issue closely and one science group here in Savannah, GA has tagged many of these snakes and released them with the hope of gaining knowledge into where the live, how far they can travel, and in what climates they can survive. At this point some of them have made it as far north as Charleston, SC which is not necessarily tropic and gets quite cold in the winter. It is far from an ideal habitat but if these animals can survive in those climates it leads me to believe that they could probably survive in the southern half of our country with adequate water and humidity.

You have to put yourself in the shoes of the people who live in areas that affected by these snakes. Imagine letting your dog out to go to the bathroom and watching him get snatched up and choked to death by a boa constrictor. Imagine watching your daughter play on a swingset through the kitchen window when a reticulated python grabs her by the head and coils around her. It sounds like a science fiction movie but where do we draw the line? It's certainly possible and in some instances it has actually happened.

amelthia
11-07-2009, 11:40 AM
MPLexus301,
I agree with some of the things you are saying, and like you I can understand both sides of the ban (I have family in FL), but consider a couple things:
1. You are stating many problems that feral snakes are causing in FL and I'm sure that there are a few other places (certain areas of Lousiana) that could also be affected, but where else in the entire United States can most snakes cause a problem? I live in PA and I know that none of my snakes would make it past Sept. if I were to release them. It seems to me that this is a state of FL problem..and I agree that its a problem, but you have to admit that it does not affect all US citizens equally. So..why should we all have equal laws..its like that time in grade school that one kid was bad so the entire class had to miss recess, its just illogical.
2. You mention "we are talking about animals that can grow in excess of 25 feet and swallow a adult human whole" but to my knowledge it would be very difficult if not impossible for most of these snakes (except for perhaps exceptionally large individuals) to swallow an adult, however a child is a different story - so I will agree that they can potentially be a threat to human life. This is because they do not often grow in excess of 25 feet, which would constitute an abnormally large individual, so please check your facts....for both of us, as I do not work with any of the giants so to speak and although I have some idea of average sizes, I'm not completely sure. However, if you do respond to this, please do actually check first. Also this bill is for a PYTHON ban, not a large python ban, this will include ball pythons, children's pythons, green tree pythons, and MANY other species that are no threat to human life. In fact, the number of python species that are no threat to humans far surpass the number of species that are.
3. Many other animals cause much more damage than snakes, the big three of which are pigs (which I hear you guys also have a problem with), dogs, and cats. Dogs and cats are undoubtedly the most popular pets in America yet feral populations cause more damage and spread more disease (remember they are warm blooded and can spread rabies, snakes cannot) than any number of snakes ever will. As mentioned, I understand why the ban was proposed, but I cannot deny the fact that feral dogs are MUCH MUCH more dangerous than snakes (I have a friend who was attacked by a pack of pitbulls that the owner had released) and have the ability to live anywhere in the US, not just FL. Feral pigs consume the widest range of plant and animal life of any feral animal, and are a threat to many more species than any of the animals I've mentioned thus far.
4. I wanted to mention one thing you didn't. When this series of bans began popping up a few years ago I heard a lot of talk about the FL panther because many individuals hypothesized that large snakes would further exacerbate their low numbers by eating many of their prey items. However, from what I've read road construction and habitat development (into shopping malls, etc.) are the two big things contributing to the panther's status right now, not snakes...this is not to say that snakes won't be contributers in a few years or so, but as of now they don't seem to be too much of the issue.

I have done research on most of these things and have statistics and other information, please let me know if you would like to see any of it and I will try to dig it up (I did it a little over a year ago).
Again, I'm not trying to argue with you per se, as I do understand, but these are just some of my thoughts on the issue that might provide a different perspective, given that other feral animals are a problem where I live. I just do not think that a nationwide ban is this cure. I believe their should be harsher penalties for people who release, abuse or neglect their animals. Do we really expect people to stop when they face no repercussions for their actions? Would you speed if you knew that you would not get pulled over? This one thing is clearly part of a better solution but the government cannot fund it because, and this is my own personal opinion, they're too busy pouring money into things that are unwarranted.
You say
"You have to put yourself in the shoes of the people who live in areas that affected by these snakes. Imagine letting your dog out to go to the bathroom and watching him get snatched up and choked to death by a boa constrictor. Imagine watching your daughter play on a swingset through the kitchen window when a reticulated python grabs her by the head and coils around her. It sounds like a science fiction movie but where do we draw the line? It's certainly possible and in some instances it has actually happened."
Now..
Imagine watching your child playing and suddenly being attacked by some feral dogs that has banded up with a pack of coyotes (and let me tell you coyotes have NO fear) or by some pit bulls that were released by a neighbor because he was going to be caught with fighting dogs. It's certainly possible and in some instances it has actually happened. Where do we draw the line on dog ownership? So, yes I can kind of put myself in the shoes of lawmakers, given that big snakes are a real issue in FL, but most of me does not understand their line of thinking given all that I've mentioned.
Please don't "react" to this post, you seem very intelligent and if you respond, I would honestly like to hear/see your thoughts.

MPLexus301
11-08-2009, 03:33 PM
MPLexus301,
I agree with some of the things you are saying, and like you I can understand both sides of the ban (I have family in FL), but consider a couple things:
1. You are stating many problems that feral snakes are causing in FL and I'm sure that there are a few other places (certain areas of Lousiana) that could also be affected, but where else in the entire United States can most snakes cause a problem? I live in PA and I know that none of my snakes would make it past Sept. if I were to release them. It seems to me that this is a state of FL problem..and I agree that its a problem, but you have to admit that it does not affect all US citizens equally. So..why should we all have equal laws..its like that time in grade school that one kid was bad so the entire class had to miss recess, its just illogical.

You definitely raise some good points but I think these snakes can live in more areas than we give them credit for- FL, GA, SC, AL, TX, MS, CA and other areas of seasonal warmth, high temps, and reasonable humidity. While that doesn't affect MOST of the people in this country it certainly affects enough of them to be a concern. You raise a good point about winters killing snakes anything north of Kentucky, thus preventing them from establishing permanent populations. The people who live in those areas will not be as susceptible to the consequences of irresponsible snake ownership simply because of where they live, but an irresponsible owner is an irresponsible owner none the less.


2. You mention "we are talking about animals that can grow in excess of 25 feet and swallow a adult human whole" but to my knowledge it would be very difficult if not impossible for most of these snakes (except for perhaps exceptionally large individuals) to swallow an adult, however a child is a different story - so I will agree that they can potentially be a threat to human life. This is because they do not often grow in excess of 25 feet, which would constitute an abnormally large individual, so please check your facts....for both of us, as I do not work with any of the giants so to speak and although I have some idea of average sizes, I'm not completely sure. However, if you do respond to this, please do actually check first. Also this bill is for a PYTHON ban, not a large python ban, this will include ball pythons, children's pythons, green tree pythons, and MANY other species that are no threat to human life. In fact, the number of python species that are no threat to humans far surpass the number of species that are.

I am not for a ban of all pythons because I think balls, childrens, green trees, and others pose very little risk if any, and make great pets. Most of the controversy that I have seen is related to "9 large species" (direct quote from the discussions on the floor) that do grow large enough to hurt people. Perhaps they have some plan to monitor certain species because I did not read or hear anything about them banning ALL python species. I think the details are still spotty...who knows?

As for species common in the pet trade that have the ability to harm humans:

Reticulated Pythons - can grow to 30+ feet
Burmese Pythons - can reach 25+ feet
Anacondas - can grow to 30+ feet
Carpet Python - can reach 10+ feet

I couldn't think of any others off the top of my head but researched the above to get those lengths. A snake that large would not have a hard time severely injuring or killing an adult or child. It would be sad to see balls and some of the smaller species looped into this bill if it takes effect.


3. Many other animals cause much more damage than snakes, the big three of which are pigs (which I hear you guys also have a problem with), dogs, and cats. Dogs and cats are undoubtedly the most popular pets in America yet feral populations cause more damage and spread more disease (remember they are warm blooded and can spread rabies, snakes cannot) than any number of snakes ever will. As mentioned, I understand why the ban was proposed, but I cannot deny the fact that feral dogs are MUCH MUCH more dangerous than snakes (I have a friend who was attacked by a pack of pitbulls that the owner had released) and have the ability to live anywhere in the US, not just FL. Feral pigs consume the widest range of plant and animal life of any feral animal, and are a threat to many more species than any of the animals I've mentioned thus far.

This is a good point, and a credible one. In my opinion, the difference is that dogs and cats have been here for hundreds of years and are viewed differently than snakes which have boomed in popularity in the last two decades or so. Pigs are indigenous to N. America so, while pests, they do have a place within natural ecosystems and I haven't heard anything about them threatening other native species. People have a negative predisposition to snakes to begin with, so thinking that they could come face to face with a 20 foot reticulated python while mowing the grass is even more unsettling than it would be with some other species of animal.

I still do not disagree with you on this issue...negative attitudes towards snakes are playing into the fear that people have on this issue. I think the difference is that everyone has a dog, or a neighbor that has a dog, so while feral dogs are infinitely more common (thus, more dangerous) than a wild 20 foot snake, there is a greater degree of unfamiliarity and anxiety about snakes. This makes them easier to target and/or hate.


4. I wanted to mention one thing you didn't. When this series of bans began popping up a few years ago I heard a lot of talk about the FL panther because many individuals hypothesized that large snakes would further exacerbate their low numbers by eating many of their prey items. However, from what I've read road construction and habitat development (into shopping malls, etc.) are the two big things contributing to the panther's status right now, not snakes...this is not to say that snakes won't be contributers in a few years or so, but as of now they don't seem to be too much of the issue.

I think the unfortunate truth here is that it is easier to point the finger at snakes and say "what if?" than to curb our conspicuous consumption and hunger for another shopping mall. People will always be seen as superior to animals, especially a species that is as feared and hated as snakes. That said, if these large snakes do stand a chance of competing with black panthers then that is all the more reason that they should be regulated. Since we already know people aren't going to stop building malls then we have to do what we can to minimize other factors- i.e. snakes.


I have done research on most of these things and have statistics and other information, please let me know if you would like to see any of it and I will try to dig it up (I did it a little over a year ago).
Again, I'm not trying to argue with you per se, as I do understand, but these are just some of my thoughts on the issue that might provide a different perspective, given that other feral animals are a problem where I live. I just do not think that a nationwide ban is this cure. I believe their should be harsher penalties for people who release, abuse or neglect their animals. Do we really expect people to stop when they face no repercussions for their actions? Would you speed if you knew that you would not get pulled over? This one thing is clearly part of a better solution but the government cannot fund it because, and this is my own personal opinion, they're too busy pouring money into things that are unwarranted.

Much agreed :). I think we share a lot of the same opinions!


You say
"You have to put yourself in the shoes of the people who live in areas that affected by these snakes. Imagine letting your dog out to go to the bathroom and watching him get snatched up and choked to death by a boa constrictor. Imagine watching your daughter play on a swingset through the kitchen window when a reticulated python grabs her by the head and coils around her. It sounds like a science fiction movie but where do we draw the line? It's certainly possible and in some instances it has actually happened."
Now..
Imagine watching your child playing and suddenly being attacked by some feral dogs that has banded up with a pack of coyotes (and let me tell you coyotes have NO fear) or by some pit bulls that were released by a neighbor because he was going to be caught with fighting dogs. It's certainly possible and in some instances it has actually happened. Where do we draw the line on dog ownership? So, yes I can kind of put myself in the shoes of lawmakers, given that big snakes are a real issue in FL, but most of me does not understand their line of thinking given all that I've mentioned.
Please don't "react" to this post, you seem very intelligent and if you respond, I would honestly like to hear/see your thoughts.

Again, I think we share a lot of the same opinions. One of the main themes here is the familiarity of canines vs the unfamiliarity of snakes to the general public. For every feral dog there are thousands that live happily in homes as loyal pets...not so for snakes. Also take into account that dogs are typically more trustworthy than large snakes, form closer bonds, and are more understanding of human "norms". I don't know many people who would set an infant down next to an anaconda and walk away, no matter how long they have had it as a pet or how much they think they trust it. Dogs have been domesticated for hundreds of years and have consequently had much of the aggression and wild instinct bred out of them. Snakes are still very wild animals that can be somewhat tame with lots of work and training. There is a lot more unknown with a snake than a dog or cat, IMO, and that is what people are afraid of.