You can almost hear the champagne corks popping at HSUS with this latest victory, and trust me it was a victory for them. They put together a masterful job of selling the public, the media and the law makers that there was a threat to humanity with “killer” pythons. Let’s take a step back and look at this from a “non” snake keepers stand point. You turn on the news and you see pythons invading Florida, they say they can eventually take over 2/3 of the country… You have no information saying this is not true, it’s the news, it’s in the USA today paper, of course it must be true. Then you hear claims from a Senator in Florida that there are up to 200,000 killer Pythons taking over Florida..and moving north! The USGS put out a paper with all kinds of unfounded scientific evidence that supports all these claims.. Of course the only action is to put a nation wide ban on these snakes before they are knocking on my door in south east Michigan, right….
Now let me ask you… Was the truth ever reported? Did we take this to the public and make the USGS report and the claims from “said” Senator look foolish? Did we contact the major newspapers and get them to print the other side. Sure, they probably wanted to run with the more sensational story, but did we press them to show the other side, the truth? Isn’t it just as big of a story to show the corruption of the system as it is to report false claims? It’s not hard to see that the initial claims from Senator Nelson where he said there could be a few thousand Burmese in the Everglades and within one year it went up to as many as 200,000! Now I’m not a genius, but I have stayed in a Holiday inn select once or twice. I don’t think the reproductive habits of the Burmese Pythons are that intense. Mind you that in the years that permits have been issued to find and kill these “killer” snakes, very small numbers of Burmese have been found, so where did they come up with these infalted numbers? Why did the estimated numbers of Burmese in the Evergaldes grow from a few thousand to up to 200,000? What about this “Super Snake”? The African rock Python x Burmese Python… the one that has no growth inhibitor and can grow to 30 feet and kill everything in it’s site? Is it just me or did this come out of a science fiction movie and have absolutely no scientific proof behind it. As a matter a fact, there have been plenty of African Rock x Burmese that don’t even resemble the “monster” that these “experts” described, and the media ran with. Heck there was a show on History channel about it and there is a show being developed for Discovery channel right now about it… Opps, was I supposed to know that? In the meanwhile did anyone do anything to show the truth?
I’m not sitting here on my high horse, I didn’t do a good enough job of trying to get the word out either. I tried on a number of occasions to get on Late night shows, Fox TV and in the New Times, but again, I’m just a guy with snakes and a YouTube show. I think our biggest problem is our efferts are spent on trying to convince people that already know the truth. We post on snake forums, facebook our reptile friends, do email and letter campaigns within our community, never trying to reach beyond the boundries of the people that already are on our side. At the same time HSUS and the other special interest groups are winning over the people that “don’t” have a clue. They are believing because they have never been showed the other side, the truth.
I’m not 100% sure who we look at to get this message out, but we had better figure that out pretty quick. If it’s USARK, then we better find them funding to bring on a PR manager, if it’s someone else, then we need to address them and get started right away. The one thing I know is, right now as we speak there’s a victory party going on at the HSUS and other special interest groups headquarters. They will be smelling blood in the water and you better not be fooled into thinking this is over.. Now that they won, and handed the reptile community the hugest defeat in it’s history, they will be back for more… I promise you that.
My question to you is, what are we going to do about it?