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A sad day for ALL pet owners.

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The announcement this afternoon, of the addition of four more species to the Lacey Act, marks a sad moment for all pet owners. Reticulated Pythons, Green Anacondas, Beni’s Anacondas and DeSchauensee’s Anaconda were added to the Lacey Act list of injurious species. This means that they can no longer be imported or transported across state lines. The latter two were added simply to prevent them from entering the pet trade. So our government feels they can ban something because it might one day enter the industry? Really?! Our leaders have overstepped once again.

There are many big names in this industry who stand to be put out of business by this miscarriage of our legal system. Breeders whose main income is based on reticulated pythons will take a major hit because of this ruling. They will now be limited to in state sales or, if their state has a direct export point, overseas sales. Folks like Jay Brewer will no longer be allowed to sell their incredible animals across this great nation. All because of fear-mongering lobby groups.

While many boa constrictor owners are prone to say “At least my animals are safe” this is not the case. We reptile enthusiasts are a community and must support each other. FWS has plainly stated that they will work in the future to push for state level control of the boa constrictor trade. This battle is only beginning. Our boas will not remain safe if we don’t stick together.

Any new restrictions on what pets we can own and love is one restriction too many. We all should be aware that HSUS will not stop until they have eliminated all pet ownership, hunting, fishing and agricultural animals. They have said as much. Attacking the easier pets to ban is just the method they have chosen. Don’t fool yourselves into believing that our children or grandchildren won’t have to fight for their right to own a cat or dog.

I, personally, do not own any of the four new species. I had dreamed of one day acquiring a retic, but now that dream is in jeopardy. There is no justifiable reason why this should be. For that reason alone, I will happily stand beside USARK and the entire Retic Nation and let my feelings be known.

Unfortunately, on this day when we should be standing as a united Herp Nation, I have seen CHET called out for not aggressively attempting to overturn Tennessee’s native species and turtle laws. Any comments along these lines split focus and make the current crisis that much more difficult. While all of us would love to be legally able to own turtles and tortoises, that is not a fight for this day.

The native species laws were enacted to protect those species from being captured and introduced into the pet trade. Not only would this put native species int jeopardy of becoming endangered, but wild caught animals have the potential to carry parasites and diseases that could devastate an entire collection. In theory, this is a good law to have in effect. The problem is in the enforcement. Any change we eventually propose should be focused on recognition of subspecies and morphs rather than a complete abolishment of this law.

Any action against Tennessee’s current laws is still years down the road for CHET. Protesting new legislation, nationally, statewide or locally is an entirely different ball game than trying to change a law that has existed for 30+ years. A unified outcry against new laws stands some chance, however small, of letting our elected officials know we are not pleased.

Proposing new laws, or reform of current laws, requires political clout, man power and money; all three of which are sorely lacking for CHET. I started this organization to improve this hobby for all of us. It wasn’t about my ego or improving my standing in the community. In the past I have requested species specific care sheets, lists of herp friendly vets across the state, enclosure ideas and information on local reptile laws to enhance our webpage. So far I have received nothing. My repeated calls for help manning tables at shows has resulted in the Admins and a few volunteers stepping up. A dozen individuals can not move mountains. We sure can’t alter legislation that is older than a major portion of our members.

Our best avenue to eventually influence our lawmakers continues to be education. We happen to live in a state where the “Only good snake is a dead snake” attitude is stronger than most any other state in the country. We have to show the public why this is wrong and persuade them we are not a bunch of crazies. Without the support of outsiders, we will always be outvoted. I hope that I can continue to count on everyone’s support as we continue to grow and expand our influence. But it is going to take us all working together to accomplish anything.

Again, I apologize for discussing this topic when our attention should be on bigger issues, but my hand was forced. Until next time, Happy Herping.

Mike



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