Saturday, March 3, 2012

View Points on Constricting Snake Ban


The federal government is ready to institute a ban on the import and interstate movement of large constricting snakes before the end of the month. People are reacting differently depending upon their viewpoint and interests. Here a sampling of opinions and emotion.

The SunSentinnel.com is carrying a story about Ben Siegel building an adoption center in Florida so that people who have snakes will have a place to leave them if they can no longer care for them or have to move out of state. The 2300-square-foot adoption center, will be able to house up to 150 snakes, and the facility will be escape proof. Many of the pythons are likely to be exported overseas, with many of them going to an exporter with a large customer base, particularly in northern Europe. The facility's second floor will be used by reptile clubs for meetings. The center will be running by March 23.

The Broward Palm Beach New Times Blog is carrying a story suggesting that a new proposal from Reps. Tom Rooney and Ted Deutch looks wants to expand the number of species banned from four to nine and includes the boa constrictor and the reticulated python. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill earlier this week, and this has further angered the reptile trade industry, who suggests it will have an economic impact well in excess of $100 million a year.

AccessNews.com contains a lengthy and emotional discourse that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has turned a blind eye to science and fact, and is serving the environmental and animal rights groups so it can destroy a "legitimate $1.4 billion dollar per year reptile industry." This one continues into quite a rant from someone in the trade.

In a Miami Herald commentary, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is of course complaining that the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers fought and gutted the bill reducing the species that would have been banned from nine to four.ars until the list was gutted by more than half — four species have been banned rather than nine.

The USNewswire  is carrying the following from United States Association of Reptile Keepers

"Politics make strange bedfellows," so the saying goes. Or maybe "Pythons Make Strange Bedfellows" would be more accurate? Today Congressman Tom Rooney hopes to pass his bill HR 511 (aka Python Ban) out of the House Judiciary Committee in an attempt to add 9 constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act and potentially kill thousands of jobs and bankrupting countless family businesses in the process. 
This comes on the heels of a four year crusade led by environmentalists and the Obama Administration to enact a rule at US Fish & Wildlife that would have done ostensibly the same thing. Ironically, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, prudently backed off listing 5 of the 9 because the scientific evidence was circumspect, and he wanted to avoid undue economic impact with lower risk animals. Rooney, in a recent press release claimed that the "administration did not go far enough"; putting Rooney squarely in the camp of the environmental NGO's that pushed the administration into enforcing their agenda.
The entire controversy revolves around a small remnant population of Burmese pythons introduced into the everglades about 20 years ago when Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida as a category 5 storm. A small population was established, but was limited to 3 counties in the very southern tip of the state. Florida Fish & Wildlife officials have suggested that as much as 80-90% of the population died in the cold winters of 2009 and 2010. Several cold weather studies done by University of Florida and US Dept of Agriculture support that conclusion.
Licensed python hunters rarely see pythons anymore. But that has not stopped radical environmentalists and a small group of invasion biologists from attributing nearly every ecological problem of the Everglades to the scary specter of the Burmese python. 
The python myth perpetuated by some politicians, government scientists and environmentalists has been criticized by more scholarly academics from around the world; including University of Florida, the National Geographic Society and the Thailand Natural History Museum. It was such an egregious example of government gone wild that Congressman Issa pointed toward problems with the rule in his Government Oversight Committee. Lack of due process, problems with information quality, $104 million in lost revenues, all based on a sensationalized myth seemed to be symptomatic of government agencies trying to justify their own existence and creating policy based on staff preference instead of facts and science. The actions of Government hurting commerce and criminalizing its citizens are supposed to be issues that Republicans typically fight against. However, the action proposed by Congressman Rooney will not only kill jobs, but put approximately 1 million Americans in jeopardy of becoming Lacey Act felons, and potentially displace thousands of snakes. How did the House Judiciary Committee get saddled with this crazy bill when there are so many important issues to deal with?
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