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Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Saturday, February 2, 2008

USFWS Targets Boas, Pythons, and Anacondas

You knew it was going to happen eventually. Rather than working honestly with the herpetocultural industry, the USFWS is sneaking around, trying to weasel regulations through which may very well ban pythons, boas, and anacondas as "injurious pests." Never mind, of course, that these snakes would never survive long in most areas of North America.

In their Notice of Inquiry, they start off with scare tactics: "The importation and introduction of constrictor snakes into the natural ecosystems of the United States may pose a threat to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry; to the health and welfare of human beings; and to the welfare and survival of wildlife and wildlife resources in the United States." This is nothing more than unsubstantiated and groundless fear-mongering (pandering to a regional entity, the South Florida Water Management District). What has happened in the Everglades is tragic, but that is a very special case, and has no bearing on herpetoculture in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Utah, or wherever else. States are perfectly capable of dealing with this issue, if necessary, without Federal interference. (See, for example, the recent crackdown in Florida on boids, without outright bans.)

Public comment is being solicited, a legal requirement (though of course, there's been no active attempt to engage herpetoculture). We have until April 30, 2008, to make our case. They are only accepting comments through the Federal Rulemaking Portal, or you must mail a letter to:

Public Comments Processing,
Attn: RIN 1018–AV68,
Division of Policy and Directives Management,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
4401 North Fairfax Drive,
Suite 222,
Arlington, VA 22203

They will not accept comments through email or fax. You must include your full name, city, state, country, and zip code. They will be publishing all comments, which may include your personal information.

Now, they appear to be asking for comments on specific questions dealing with number of breeders and herp businesses in the country, state regulations, potential impact of native species, etc. Be aware that anti-herp groups may use this as an opportunity to make irrational charges about the potential impact of feral boids in regions where no boids could survive and breed.

Please take the time to read through the Notice of Inquiry and to make comment on these issues; you don't have to be a big snake owner to recognize this as an irrational and unnecessary response to an issue that requires a more serious approach.

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