On January 26, 2010 Congressman Tom Rooney of Florida introduced HR511. To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the importation of various injurious species of constrictor snakes. This bill if passed would add 9 constrictors to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. We were informed of the introduction within minutes of the bill being filed. At that point there was no bill text or Committee assignment. We received the text and full Committee assignment Monday and the Subcommittee assignment today.
HR511 has been assigned to the US House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Over all this is a very reasonable committee that needs to be educated to the facts surrounding this issue. This is a committee USARK is familiar with. USARK CEO Andrew Wyatt provided expert testimony to this committee in 2009. Much misinformation has been spread; intentionally by special interest groups opposed to the Reptile community, and unintentionally by well meaning politicians that have been given poor information by staff and special interest groups.
It is clear that there is little justification for a Lacey Act listing which would kill thousands of jobs while failing to have any real world effect in south Florida where a population of pythons is struggling to survive. The few pythons that are left are still limited to the 3 southern most counties and have never demonstrated an ability to move further north. The state of Florida has already banned many of these animals from private ownership. Congressman Rooney stated that Florida needed Lacey Act protection to keep pythons out of the state. But it is already illegal to bring these pythons in from out of state because Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) put a statute in place last summer. State law has already done what Congressman Rooney states he wants to duplicate with HR511
FWC has estimated that as many as 90% of the feral python population in south Florida have already died due to the cold in winter of 2009- ’10 and 2010- ’11. Cold weather studies done by the US Dept of Agriculture, University of Florida and Savannah River Ecological Lab have confirmed that pythons exposed to cold die unless artificially kept warm. The USDA is on record stating that they dont believe pythons can exist for any length of time outside of south Florida.
Mother Nature and Florida FWC are doing what the Lacey Act could not do in south Florida; address the small python population in an effective way. At stake is a $1.4 Billion industry in captive bred reptiles with no environmental benefit to Florida. We feel confident that once Congressman Rooney and Committee Members understand the job killing nature of this bill proposal, coupled with the ineffectiveness of Lacey Act to address invasive species issues in a meaningful way, they will do the right thing and KILL HR511.
Lacey Act is a Job Killer with NO Environmental Benefit!
View text of HR511. Click Here:
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