Posts Tagged ‘PIJAC’

A Little Weekend Snakehunting

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

A writer’s work can be pretty dreary stuff, especially if what he likes to do is spend time in the field.  Sitting at a desk in the middle of summer is the worst.   But I’ve got a good story in the works so it’s got to be done.  This morning I did a little urban herpin’, which is to say I went through the news.  It has been a big week for snakes–a green mamba in Hollywood, Florida bit a cable worker (Mark Lucas of Strictly Reptiles comments), the BBC covered python hunting in the Everglades, and in mouse-sized space the St. Louis Post-Dispatch managed to grossly mis-report the goals of the reptile lobby, which supports a ban on Burmese and African rock pythons, and opposes a ban that would eliminate the keeping of appropriately-sized snakes.  And I missed this ditty about a border patrol officer smuggling leopard tortoises into the US from Tanzania.  Any guess on who his supplier was?

Finally, I always like to see how many pages it takes to get to a dead reptile in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. This week it’s one.  On the inside cover Hermes has its “So-Kelly” bag in matte alligator.  That’s so-kelly.

Pet Python Ban?

Monday, July 27th, 2009

(Updated 7/31 below) The reptile keeping world is up in arms over a House Bill, HR 2811, which would ban all python imports.  According to PetHobbyist.com:  “Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida has authored a bill, HR 2811 , that would ban the “species genera Python” from being imported or sold across state lines. While in response to the recent Florida death of an infant by her parents’ Burmese python, the law is written such that it appears to also ban snakes such as the ball python — an animal usually included on zoo, herp society, and pet information resources as a good snake for first time pet owners.”

Ball pythons can make good pets and there are some great overseas breeding and ranching projects of chondro and other pythons, too.  Banning all pythons will no doubt increase black market trafficking of not only pythons but of other wildlife, too, and will put legitimate reptile breeders and dealers here and abroad out of business.  There are better legislative options than a blanket ban on all pythons to improve protection of the environment, the public, and the animals.

Unfortunately, some leaders in the reptile industry (e.g., USARK) are lobbying Congressman Meek and others to change the bill language to ban only imports of Burmese pythons.  This is a silly proposal which ignores (more…)

Pet Python Kills Child: Time for a Change

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

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.