Thursday, February 5, 2009

First, they came for the pythons . . .

(BUMPED; UPDATES BELOW) Democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that would devastate the hobby -- and damage the small businesses -- of a group of American hobbyists: Snake collectors.

The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (HR669), sponsored by Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam.) and co-sponsored by several House Democrats including Alcee Hastings and Ron Klein of Florida, has got the "reptile geeks" up in arms:
If passed as written this bill will BAN the import, purchase, sale, trade and breeding of many, many reptiles and amphibians... including Boa, Python and Eunectes [anacondas -ed.]. If this bill passes it will destroy the reptile community and industry overnight!
The U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers says this bill, although promoted as an "environmental" measure, is being pushed in response to an alarmist report, "Broken Screens," published in 2007 by the animal-rights group Defenders of Wildlife. In their petition to stop HR669, USARK says:

-- There is NO evidence to support the premise that the continued import of Boa, Python & Eunectes would negatively impact the economy, environment, or human or animal species health.
-- Broken Screens, the report which is the basis for the writing of H.R. 669, is not a science based document. It is a propaganda piece produced by a radical environmentalist group in league with the Animal Rights Movement.
-- The so called Risk Assessment measures in this bill take a Guilty Until Proven Innocent approach that flies in the face of reason and promotes prejudicial treatment of all animals listed. -- Citizens of the United States are appalled that well funded special interest groups are able to promote fiction as fact and we demand Boa, Python and Eunectes be removed from H.R. 669.

I was alerted to HR669 by a well-informed source -- my 16-year-old son, Jim, whose snake collection includes the ball python pictured above.

As with CPSIA -- which threatens independent American businesses with "National Bankruptcy Day" if it goes into effect -- HR669 looks like another example of the Democratic congressional majority's appetite for unthinking regulation that creates burdens for businesses and individuals.

If the Republican Party's new chairman Michael Steele is looking for an issue to move forward, maybe the "reptile geeks" are a constituency worth cultivating. "Save Our Snakes" might be an unlikely rallying cry, so how about: "Don't Tread On Me!"

UPDATE (SUN. 2/1 PM): Just got off the phone with Andrew Wyatt, president of the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, who says that the H.R. 669 ban isn't just about snakes, but will also affect other species of exotic pets.

"There's all kinds of animals involved in it," said Wyatt. "It's an attempt to ban almost every animal that's not native to the United States."

Wyatt certainly can't be accused of being "anti-environment." A lifetime outdoorsman, he runs Outer Banks Wild, an eco-tourism and education enterprise based in North Carolina's Outer Banks. "I love my environment -- I live in the outdoors," Wyatt says.

However, Wyatt says ordinary pro-environment activists like him are trying to raise public awareness of the "very radical agenda" of the Human Society of the United States, which he calls a "powerful animal-rights extremist" group. HSUS is "hiding behind the facade" of mainstream concerns about "kittens and puppies" while actually pursuing radicalism, Wyatt says. And, he says, HSUS is attempting to ban boas and pythons because that exploits "prejudice against reptiles."

"They are anti-human. . . . It's crazy," Wyatt says.

UPDATE II: Welcome Reptile Geeks!

UPDATE III: Andrew Roth hates snakes, but guess what he hates more?

UPDATE IV (Thurs. 2/5): Linked by the F3 Coalition. Just heard the Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) "just introduced a similar bill in the Senate S373." My source says:
[A]fter squandering untold millions on projects to save the Everglades . . . HSUS has convinced [Nelson] that he can be the Hero of the Everglades and save his legacy by championing this high profile but meritless Bill. There is no credible scientific evidence to support wasting taxpayers money to destroy thousands of families and small businesses with this issue.
Conservative activists have informed Hill staffers about this effort, and we may start seeing action soon.


  1. dogs and house cats are probably non native as are cow and horses.

  2. Hey there are many snakes and reptiles in the DEMACRATIC PARTY already

  3. On the bright side, it's reassuring to see the Democrats overreach just like many of us thought they would. This is just one of many examples so far. I'm definitely looking forward to 2010.

  4. Humans weren't in North America or South America until about 11,000 years ago... when they imported themselves... can this bill get rid of them too?

  5. This is important stuff for anyone who keeps companion animals. I have spread the word!