Over the past 24 hours there has been a lot of panic and speculation about the fate of Reticulated Pythons, Anacondas and possibly even Boa Constrictors. Most of this stems from some recent posts that made it seem as if these species are going to be added or possibly have already been added to the Lacey act. This of course prompted me to get to the bottom of what is going on and try to calm the hobbies nerves. For starters “nothing” has been added to the list of injurious species as of yet. As we all know several species including Burmese Pythons were added to the Lacey act last year. Within this rule change there is a possibility that they can add additional species to the list without going through the entire process, but in many cases these additions are denied.
My first call was to Phil Goss, president of USARK. He is of course concerned and very engaged with this process, but assures me that there has been no “new” information released and that this process has been going on for months. There will be a ruling in the coming months that may or may not include some species of snakes. USARK has been involved in every step of this process and will be releasing a statement with very valuable information in the coming days. They had already planned on releasing this statement prior to the latest buzz, but are fast tracking it and hoping to have it out very soon. Phil ensures us that they are doing everything to protect ALL reptile keepers and that this is a process and there is no way to predict what the final ruling will be. Phil followed our conversation up with this email:
Phil Goss (president USARK)
The stuff floating around is not new information and additional species
have not been listed as injurious. USARK has been working on it all year
and we continue to do so. For reference, below is the original text from
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs by the Department of the
Interior (DOI)/USFWS in 2011:
Abstract: We have made a final determination to list nine species of large
constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Indian
python (including Burmese python), reticulated python, Northern African
python, Southern African python, boa constrictor, yellow anaconda,
DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda.
This is what was posted months ago and been brought to light again
Abstract: We are making a final determination to list four species of
large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act:
Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni
anaconda. The boa constrictor is still under consideration for listing.
As you know, only four species were listed previously. This announcement
is not a final ruling but for someone who does not know that, it sounds
very dire indeed. It is just wording that could be misinterpreted
that was posted in the Unified Agenda. Any reference to a July, 2013
statement is from the most recent hearing and not from the Unified Agenda
as it was simply republished as part of the hearing record.
Below is one link where you can see that this exact information has been
around since Spring 2013.
My next call was to Bill Brant, seeing as he spent 10 years on the board of PIJAC I thought he could shed some light on the subject. Bill is very concerned about the potential for any additions to Lacey that will effect our hobby, but also ensured me the engagement that PIJAC had in the process and also confirmed that there was no “new” information out there. We all knew that the process to potentially add additional animals was in the works for several months and there is nothing that has developed in the past few days. With that said, Bill feels the the attention this has gotten is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the hobby does not panic and the snake market become effected. He believes that attention to all potential threats is very important and peoples involvements into these issues is paramount to the future of our hobby. This was PIJAC’s statement on what has happened in the last 24 hours. :
Statement on Constrictor Rule
USARK and PIJAC have been in constant communication about these issues for quite some time, and worked very hard to submit pertinent information during the rule making process. We are aware the internet has been flooded with speculation as to what might or might not come out in the future as it relates to which species might be listed as injurious under the Lacey Act.
PIJAC does not respond to speculative comments that involve an existing rule making. Based on the variety of rumors that we have heard, one of these rumors is bound to be right, just based on the mathematical probability. The responsible course of action is to wait until the Final Rule is published. It makes no difference to any reasonable person what is said or unsaid before the Final Rule is published.
PIJAC would never ask an agency person to violate their ethical obligations and leak any information before the Final Rule is issued, because it is unethical or possibly illegal. It puts the agency person’s (the leaker) job in jeopardy. And, as the party receiving this information, your reputation is ruined at the agency because other agency staff wonder how you got the inside information and will resent you for bringing scrutiny to the confidentiality of their work. PIJAC is in the business of representing the pet industry for the long haul and needs to be able to deal with federal agencies on myriad issues: herps, fish, invasive species of all types, etc. Sound representation is not about being first, but about being right. The only way PIJAC can guarantee being right is to read the Final Rule when it comes out.
We caution the industry against taking any action with their reptile collections until the Final Rule is issued. Here is an interesting article about the mechanics of the federal rulemaking process:
So to wrap this up, we need to be concerned about the potential for some species including Reticulated Pythons and possibly Boa Constrictors, but until the ruling is made there is little we can do except put our faith in the process and the advocacy groups such as USARK, PIJAC and Herp Alliance. What we do have to take out of this is that fact that as a hobby we need to be united and be one voice. We can only win these battles if we are together. So this is not time to call names or complain about bad information, but a time to prepare ourselves and ready to stand up for our rights. This ruling may come down as early as February of 2014 or may be postponed for many months. In the end we can not panic and cause damage to our hobby when ‘nobody” knows the outcome. I for one am staying positive and hope that common sense prevails and they do not allow any further animals to be added to the Lacey Act. So there you have it, the full story. I hope this calms your nerves as much as it did mine. Keep that passion for reptiles! Brian