Archive for the ‘Animal Welfare’ Category

FORBIDDEN: US Bans Giant Python Trade

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Well, it finally happened. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has finally banned the importation and interstate transfer of giant pythons. This is a battle that has been fought for the past several years between leaders in the python and boa constrictor breeding and keeping world and government regulators.   The official issue at stake is the invasiveness of these animals and their environmental impact, but big snakes are so loaded politically and emotionally the battle has always been about about more than that.  It has been about whether average Americans should have giant constrictors in their homes.

As I’ve said from the beginning, it is greed pure and simple that prevented the reptile industry from regulating itself with regard to these giant snakes.  Any idiot can see that giant pythons are inappropriate to most buyers, esp. teenagers, but sell to them the industry did.   That same greed led a number of the biggest breeders to import from Anson Wong even though they knew he was a major illegal wildlife trafficker.   As a person who believes in responsible keeping it is a shame these reptile industry leaders could not really lead.

The new rule does not include Reticulated Pythons, the largest python on earth, and among its most aggressive.  That is strange. And no doubt will come up again.

The new rule also excludes boa constrictors from the ban.  That IMHO is a good thing.  Boas are not for everyone but they are manageable at most sizes.  What boa constrictors and other larger snakes need is not a ban but reasonable standards of welfare. That, too, is no doubt in the future of the reptile industry.  Its leaders should get in front of that.  But history says they won’t.

New Jersey one step closer to creating tiger-tracking system

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

This story ranks among headlines that surprised me today, tigers in New Jersey…. 

New Jersey one step closer to creating tiger-tracking system

Associated Press

Legislation that would create a registry and tracking system for captive tigers living in New Jersey has advanced with unanimous bipartisan support.  Sen. Ray Lesniak’s bill aims to ensure tiger bones and other body parts don’t end up on the black market.

Tiger claws, teeth and whiskers are marketed illegally, but bones are the most valuable on the black market because they are believed by some to have medicinal value. Poaching and loss of habitat are the biggest threats to the world’s dwindling tiger population.

The measure that advanced Thursday requires environmental regulators to keep track of the tigers and for the animals to be micro-chipped. The information would help police track those responsible if tiger parts are sold illegally.  Lesniak hopes the legislation will serve as an international model.

More on the Great Slaughter in Ohio

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Some more on the Ohio wildlife slaughter today. I’m quoted in The New Scientist and in  this Washington Post story. My actual quote about allowing people to keep dangerous carnivores was, “It’s the same as having a loaded gun with a child in the room.”  That part about the child in the room is the key line.  Loaded guns don’t kill people anymore than teeth do.  But add a small child or a large animal to the mix and you have a chance for disaster.

I’m being asked why people keep these animals.  With all due respect to Jack Hanna’s work for animals, one reason certainly is when he and others go on talk shows with fuzzy and cute animals on leashes.  When the bobcat or the lemur or the chimp in diapers jumps on the desk it looks like something one could have at home.  When Dave Letterman pets the snow leopard and says, “Gee, Jack this fur is so soft!” there may be some benefit in public awareness, but there is certainly somebody out there who watches the same moment and says, “Yea, I want one of those, too.”  If they have the money, and it does not usually take much, the only thing they need to get one is the internet.

Reality TV has blurred the line between home and wild.  Shows like Fear Factor, in which people were made to eat mass quantities of live insects, or stick their hands in piles of snakes, turn animals into objects.  They diminish our respect for wildlife.  Note that very few pictures or video taken in Zanesville Ohio show the actual dead animals.  That is the real reality tv, and it would do everybody good to see it.