Here is a story linking the US Fish and Wildlife Service with the Gulf disaster. Imagine if MMS had been able to make its own environmental impact decisions, much as proposed not long ago by the Bush Administration (filed in my Bullshit folder)…
From the NY Times: The federal agency charged with protecting endangered species like the brown pelican and the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle signed off on the Minerals Management Service’s conclusion that deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico posed no significant risk to wildlife, despite evidence that a spill of even moderate size could be disastrous, according to federal documents.more…
PS. What about HEAVY METALS damage to wildlife resulting from this spill?
Here’s the video of the tragic event that is rocking the reptile-keeping world.
(Here’s the news story). The snake appears to be an adolescent albino Burmese python. At 8.5 feet, it’s about the size most people who keep them like. Fortunately, there have been very few deaths from giant pythons in the United States, but this episode underscores the lack of responsibility leaders in the reptile industry have shown in making Burmese and reticulated pythons cornerstones of the reptile trade, selling tens of thousands to teenagers and other inappropriate buyers every year.
There has recently been some excessive state and federal legislation floating around to eliminate keeping exotic animals of any kind (a hamster is technically exotic, so is a boa constrictor and a leopard gecko). That legislation overshoots its mark in many respects (find out more at USARK) but its genesis can be traced to many in the reptile industry–big and small–who sell reptile species totally inappropriate to the average keeper (giant pythons, anacondas, large monitor lizards, alligators, venomous). If that’s not enough head-in-the-sand leadership, some prominent dealers regularly import from known wildlife smugglers–exporters who also traffic some of the world’s rarest plants, birds and mammals.
It might not have been possible to avoid this terrible death, but it may well have been possible to avoid the Everglades python story, the Cape Coral Nile Monitor story, and others that seem destined to doom legitimate reptile keeping. Leaders in the industry need to (1) stop selling giant or venomous reptiles to non-experts, (2) stop importing anything from smugglers, and (3) as we do with most wild game, stop selling commercial-scale, wild-caught reptiles, period. Saying these things may cost me a couple friends, but I believe they are necessary in today’s world, and the right thing to do. There is no Second Amendment protection here. If the industry doesn’t better regulate itself, someone else surely will do it instead. And tragedies like this one will certainly continue.
If you’ve got a view on this please post it (click comments below). And check out PIJAC and HSUS for differing views.
Here is an unfortunate celebration in the NY Times of a sad practice: The Rattlesnake Roundup. Note that the story, “A Knack for Hooking the Longest Rattlers,” appears in the sports section. Imagine if this were baby seal clubbing, or raptor shooting, or even a wolf hunt–you can bet the Times would have run the story with analysis of the impact of the ritual on native populations, of the potential cruelty involved, of the unnecessary commodification of wildlife. But here, because it is snakes, the hunters are the voice of whether this is a fair practice and the Jaycees are the reporter’s source for what the snake population can sustain.
“The population I don’t think is in any danger,” Sawyers [of the Jaycees] said. “Some people do use gas fumes to draw them out of the hole. In Texas law, there’s nothing on the books right now that says you can’t, so it’s up to each individual hunter.”
Gassing for snakes is a reviled practice. Florida has outlawed gassing not only because it kills everything else around and damages soil and water, but also because it causes nervous disorders in the snakes. Shame on the Times for running this story as a sporting event, shame on Sweetwater, Texas for celebrating the killing of wildlife without any apparent research as to the rattlesnakes’ threat to humans, cattle, or research on the snakes’ sustainability. And, of course, taking the kids out to a rattlesnake killing is just what we need to engender respect for wildlife. Texas has some of the world’s most knowledgeable snake lovers. It is a shame it also has so many haters.