Everyone needs to be aware of two bills that have been introduced into Congress on 1/26/09 and 2/3/09.
H.R. 669 introduced into the House by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo [GU], and S.373 in the Senate introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson [FL].
I'll deal with the second one first since it is simpler. S.373 is a bill proposing the ammendment of Title 18 of the US code. This title concerns the importation and interstate transport of injurious wildlife. The text of the bill is short and is as follows:
Section 42(a)(1) of title 18, United States Code, is amended in the first sentence by inserting `; of the constrictor snake of the species Python genera' after `polymorpha'.
The text of this first paragraph of Title 18 can be read at Cornell's website here.
What this bill will do if passed is include the entire Python genus in the list of species banned from importation and interstate transport and commerce, labeling them all as injurious.
This means everything from Retics to Savu pythons, and yes this includes Balls. Importation will be stopped entirely, and all interstate shipping and transport of all pythons will end if this bill is passed.
S.373 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. See the borrom of the page for a link to the members of this committee. I urge you to contact them while it is still under their review.
H.R. 669 is an even worse bill. I'll quote USARK on what this bill means to the hobby, because they said it very well:
"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. If this bill passes it will destroy the reptile community and industry overnight!"
That statement is not an exaggeration, it is a fact. The Humane Society of the United States is in full support of this bill. For those of you in the hobby that have doubted the threat of the HSUS that I and others have been talking about for years this should finally convince you.
Below is a direct quote from the HSUS website concerning this bill. The page on their site can be seen here http://tinyurl.com/dk4nsc
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International welcomed the introduction yesterday of the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (H.R. 669) in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam).
The bill is designed to prevent the introduction and establishment in the United States of nonnative wildlife species that may harm the economy, the environment, human health or native wildlife. H.R. 669 would require the federal government to assess the risk of nonnative wildlife species proposed for importation and, with public input, decide if the importation of these animals should be allowed or prohibited.
"Each year, millions of wild animals are captured overseas and imported into the United States," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The HSUS. "This trade results in the suffering and death of large numbers of animals, poses unnecessary risks to public health and jeopardizes native wildlife populations here and abroad. We are grateful to Congresswoman Bordallo for working to address this global problem."
Imported wild animals may escape or may be let loose by owners who cannot properly care for them. These animals sometimes die from starvation, predation or exposure. Sometimes, however, they thrive — putting people, domestic pets and native wildlife at risk.
H.R. 669 is a much more complex bill and carries further reaching consequences that S.373.
It will not only ban the import and interstate transportation of all Boa species, all Python species, and Anacondas, it will also ban their possession and contains NO grandfather clause to allow you to keep the animals you currently have. If this is passed then all the ball python collections people have that are valued in the tens of thousands of dollars will instantly become illegal to possess.
Here is a quote from the text of H.R. 669:
SEC. 6. PROHIBITIONS AND PENALTIES.
(a) Prohibitions- Except as provided in this section or in section 7, it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to--
(1) import into or export from the United States any nonnative wildlife species that is not included in the list of approved species issued under section 4;
(2) transport between any State by any means whatsoever any nonnative wildlife species that is not included in the list of approved species issued under section 4;
(3) violate any term or condition of a permit issued under section 7;
(4) possess (except as provided in section 3(f)), sell or offer to sell, purchase or offer to purchase, or barter for or offer to barter for, any nonnative wildlife species that is prohibited from being imported under paragraph (1);
(5) release into the wild any nonnative wildlife species that is prohibited from being imported under paragraph (1); or
(6) breed any nonnative wildlife species that is prohibited from being imported under paragraph (1), or provide any such species to another person for breeding purposes.
Pay very close attention to numbers 2, 4, and 6. No transporting across state lines, no selling or trading, and NO BREEDING of species on the list.
That's correct, folks, even the possession of any of the species they decide to add to the list will be illegal.
Now here's the kicker. These two bills actually are worded so that if both are passed they will work together. H.R. does not actually name specific species, those will be named and aeeded as time goes on, and any species proposed for inclusion will be subject to public comment.
It does however include by default any species listed in Title 18. If S.373 is passed as well, the entire Python genus will be added to Title 18 and therefore included by default as being banned by H.R. 669 without public comment.
This is absolutely the most serious attack on our hobby in our history. Neither of these bills must be allowed to pass.
H.R.669 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. See below fo ra link to a list of the members of this committee. We should contact them now as well, while the bill remains under their review. It should be noted that Bordello herself, who introduced this bill, is a member fo this committee.
Everyone, regardless of what reptiles you currently keep, needs to contact their state senators and representatives and demand they vote no on both of these bills. The information on where to contact your congressmen will be listed at the end of this page.
It cannot be stressed strongly enough the importance of fighting these bills by every means at our disposal. When writing your congressmen keep a few things in mind. Be civil and professional. Do not use foul language or insulting comments. Be sure to mention the negative economic impact these bills will have on you personally as well as the industry as a whole.
The potential for economic effects carries significant weight with lawmakers. They will consider that more seroiusly than just our own enjoyment of keeping these animals.
Do not think that this will just go away, or that others will take up the fight for you. Every herper must do his part and make his voice heard. Now is the time for action, our hobby has never before seen a threat of such magnitude.
Here are come links concerning the proposed legislation:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ - The Thomas search engine. Enter the search term H.R. 669 or S.373 and select bill number to read the full text of either bill. I cannot link directly to the text of the bills because search results expire within a few minutes to keep the results current.
http://www.house.gov/ - U.S. House of Representatives. Find your Representative here
http://www.senate.gov/ - U.S. Senate. Find your Senator here.
U.S. Code Title 18 - Read the section of Title 18 regarding injurious wildlife
HSUS statement - The page on the HSUS site stating their support for H.R. 669
USARK - The homepage of United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK)
PIJAC - The homepage of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)
House Committee on Natural Resources - Member list for this committee
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works - Member list for this commitee
Link to original thread - http://www.arbreptiles.com/lastword/legislation.shtml