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Python Ban Moves Forward Despite Questionable Science

Posted by Miqe on December 11, 2009

PR: Python Ban Moves Forward Despite Questionable Science December 10, 2009 Wilmington, NC- Driven by powerful special interests and much media sensation S. 373 aka ‘The Python Ban’ is likely to move forward despite lack of scientific justification. Pushed by Sponsor Senator Bill Nelson and the Humane Society of the United States S. 373 could devastate the trade in high quality captive bred reptiles in the United States.

Today the Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works (EPW) will hold a business meeting on S. 373. The Committee Chair is Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the Ranking Member is Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). The committee will hold a mark up session where they will consider S. 373, to amend title 18, United States Code, to add constrictor snakes of the species Python genera to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. The committee is expected to amend the bill to include the 9 snakes listed on a recent controversial report by the US Geological Survey (USGS). All tolled the bill could stop the import, export and interstate transport of as many as 45 species of Boas and Pythons.

The USGS report being used to justify these extreme measures has been called into question by a group of independent scientists in a letter to the EPW Committee on November 24, 2009. The letter characterized the USGS report as “not a bona-fide scientific paper”. The US Department of the Interior (DOI) and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) stand by the report and have recommended to the committee that all 9 snakes reviewed should be included by amendment to S. 373. The independent scientists, who include professors from University of Florida, Arizona State University, Texas A&M and The National Geographic Society, go further to state, “this document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies, as its content is not based on best science practices”

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) made an agreement in principle with Senator Bill Nelson’s office to limit the damage to a 3 billion dollar a year trade in these reptiles, but was informed yesterday that the agreement would not be honored. Senator Nelson has justified his position based on the recommendations made in regards to the USGS report by USFWS and DOI. Andrew Wyatt, president of USARK, commented that “it is a real shame that Senator Nelson has changed his position on this issue”. If the bill passes approximately 4 million boas and pythons already in captivity would be rendered valueless overnight with no provisions for disposition or compensation. Wyatt added, “it could create a situation where millions of people will be in possession of injurious wildlife. It is ludicrous to put so many law abiding citizens in that position and diminish the Lacey Act for the sake of political expediency.”

Passage of S. 373 would result in the loss of thousands of American jobs bankrupting an entire industry. Without strong evidence to support the injurious wildlife listing, USARK calls on the Senate EPW Committee to give an unfavorable rating to S. 373.

Contact: Andrew Wyatt   president@usark.org

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One Response to “Python Ban Moves Forward Despite Questionable Science”

  1. Miqe said

    Events involving the Python Ban are moving quickly. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers – USARK – is fighting to get more politicians informed and try to influence the senates current plans to something more palatable for constrictor owners.

    What follows is a statement from USARK:

    Today the Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works (EPW) held a business meeting on S. 373. Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) presided. After brief statements the committee held a mark up session on S. 373, to amend title 18, United States Code, to add constrictor snakes of the species Python genera to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Senator Inhofe expressed concerns about the bill. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) offered an amendment to limit the scope of the bill to only the 9 snakes addressed in the USGS report on large constrictors. Senator Cardin further agreed to work with Senator Inhofe to improve the bill prior to a vote on the Senate floor. The amendment was passed by voice vote. S373 was then voted out of Committee by voice vote with Senator Inhofe registering a NO vote.

    S373 has now passed committee. It can not become law until it is voted on and passed by the full Senate and House of Representatives. There is still much work to be done prior to the Python Ban becoming law. S373 in its current form in unacceptable to USARK and the Reptile Nation. We will continue to work with Senator Inhofe, Senator Cardin and the EPW Committee Staff to shape the future of this bill. Please make an appointment to visit with your Senator and express your concerns with S373. Everyone needs to step up and make contact with your Senator. Let USARK know about your meeting. It is time to step up our game and show Washington we are serious about this. Continue the good fight. The Reptile Nation thanks Senator Inhofe for his even handed treatment of our industry.

    Following is the statement of Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK):

    Regarding S. 373, which is designed to ban the import and export of certain constrictor snakes, I believe we need to follow the process already established, which allows stakeholders to have input. Commonsense reforms are needed to prevent the proliferation, importation or breeding of species that would be harmful to ecosystems or human health and safety. We are setting a dangerous precedent of continuing to address these species outside of normal agency channels. Although I will not be offering an amendment today, I will support efforts on the floor to mitigate the negative effects to those snake owners and breeders who legally acquired their snakes, but through no fault of their own now find that their property is worth nothing.

    S373 has been amended to include ONLY:

    Python molurus
    Broghammeras reticulatus
    Python sebae
    Python natalensis
    Boa constrictor
    Eunectes notaeus
    Eunectes deschauenseei
    Eunectes murinus
    Eunectes beniensis

    It’s not over yet, and USARK encourages people to continue speaking out against these bans.

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