Inane Guberment


The following is from Cliff Earle, a fellow herpetologist who has been keeping tabs on the ridiculous S-373 legislation which threatens to severely impact the reptile pet industry. In the rabid banner waving, and ill-informed statements from the media through foam flecked lips, it seems that logic and reason has simply been exchanged for fear and crowd-mind.

In a very PETA-esque stance, our legislators appear to be throwing very misguided legislation at a problem which already exists, heedless of the impact to jobs and careers many in the pet trade will have to suffer.  It’s also sad to think that if these fools have their way, children in years to come might not be able to experience the joy and education which comes with close contact with animals (specifically reptiles, in this case, but who knows how long it will take before this extends to furry animals).  I have taken the liberty to hilight a few things in his letter.


This originally started as a response in Florida to the problem with escaped pet snakes thriving in the

There is a lot here, I admit — it’s been a crazy week. Pick and chose your battles from the below, with S-373 and the CA issue at the top of your list.

Legislation

Federal

As most of you probably saw in the US ARK post last night, “The United States House Committee on Natural Resources is preparing for a March 23rd oversight hearing on invasive species, specifically snakes. This will be a joint hearing between the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife. The hearing has not been formally announced yet, but we are told it will focus on the Lacey Act and whether this law is an effective method to control invasive species, particularly constrictor snakes.” This is basically the House side of the Senate’s S-373 bill.

Digging a bit, I found that committee has 49 members — of which a full 7 are Californian politicians. Those members are, in district order:
–Tom McClintock (R), CA 04 (member of National Parks)
–George Miller (D), CA 07
–Jim Costa (D), CA 20
–Lois Capps (D), CA 23 (member of National Parks *and* Insular Affairs)
–Elton Gallegly (R), CA 24 (member of National Parks)
–Grace Napolitano (D), CA 38 (member of National Parks)
–Joe Baca (D), CA 43

For everyone, they can be contacted through the committee’s website at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov. Hit them up with a form letter *before* the meeting, so that they know going in where their voter base stands! For team leaders, please make sure to prioritize meetings with those seven House members.

California

PIJAC, another organization gearing up to fight the California proposed rules, has suggested we start a letter writing campaign directed at the individual members of the DFG Commission.

Those members are as follows:
–President Jim Kellogg
–Richard B. Rogers
–Michael Sutton
–Daniel W. Richards
–Donald Benninghoven

They can be reached at:
California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

In addition, our side needs to start gathering scientific data on the frog species we collectively know about. For example, minimum/maximum temperatures tolerated by a species or any other environmental data that will support the fact they are not invasive. If our side can gather any data at all, we will be far ahead of the DFG, who are legislating based on a complete lack of supporting science. (Those who are members of forums, please post a call for support there as well.)

Florida

Several news sources have reported that Florida’s FWC Chairman plans to “remain tough” on snakes. In his own misguided words: “The state of Florida has taken the lead on this issue. We should be considering an outright ban. It is paramount that we keep doing everything we can to keep these animals out of the wild.” I’m not sure how he equates a ban with improving keeping snakes out of the wild, but he does. Read the full story at http://www.chipleypaper.com/sports/span-5421-height-style.html, then send feedback and the other side of the story to the paper’s editor, Jay Felsberg, and to the seven Commissioners here: http://myfwc.com/CONTACT/Contact_commissioners.htm.

Media

The New York Times has joined the chorus of outlets printing bad data. They have weighed in on PBS’s horrid “Invasion of the Giant Pythons” – and with glowing words. I have a background is journalism education-wise, and the NYT is both big news and often taken as gospel — which means the press credibility line has now been crossed, and we *all* need to weigh in and educate them least we lose the publicity war for good.

A few choice quotes to give you the flavor:

“Flying into Florida for a winter vacation? If you look out the plane window once you’re near your destination and the ground seems to be writhing, it’s because the entire state is covered with pythons.”

“The program’s narration, given an extra jolt via the vocal talents of F. Murray Abraham, keeps referring to ‘the python army.’ “

“But it turns out that not all of the blame for the infestation lies with pet owners who have released their pythons into the wild. Some got there courtesy of hurricanes that wrecked exotic-pet warehouses.” [Emphasis added by Cliff.]

“If you’re already in Florida watching this program, you may find it too unsettling and feel the urge to change the channel. Be careful, though, as you’re poking between the couch cushions looking for the remote. Python.”

The article — sadly titled “They’re Big and Ready to Eat Florida” — can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/arts/television/20pythons.html.

The author can be reached here: http://www.nytimes.com/gst/emailus.html. The editor can be reached here: letters@nytimes.com. The paper can be called here: (212) 556-1234. Please cover all three. Ask them politely to cover the other side “in the interest of fairness and balance,” and put teeth in the request: if you subscribe, threaten to cancel; if you don’t, tell them you never will; and tell them you will advise your friends and acquaintances accordingly. We need to hit this hard.

BTW, the program (I’m told – it is not one of the channels I receive) was not as bad as feared. But you can submit a respectful comment or question anyway here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/invasion-of-the-giant-pythons/herpetologist-shawn-heflick-answers-your-questions/5564/. It is my understanding that several of these will be answered on-line during the pending week.

Thank you as always,
Cliff Earle

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