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Updates to the Injurious Wildlife List Could Impact $100M in Trade

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to issue a new rule that could add as many as five additional species of snake to the Injurious Wildlife List as defined under the “constrictor rule” of the Lacey Act.

The species under consideration include the reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, Beni anaconda and boa constrictor.

The United States Herpetoculture Alliance estimates that the species proposed for inclusion amount to an annual trade of $100 million in the U.S. each year, and is urging legal action against the new regulation out of fear that it will destroy the trade in such species.

“The reptile and pet trade associations cannot sit fat, dumb and happy while the rights of herpetoculturists are regulated into oblivion,” wrote the Herp Alliance on its website. “By the time the collective coma is shaken off, the days of breeding Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons and boa constrictors may be lost forever. It is the opinion of the U.S. Herpetoculture Alliance that the only real recourse is for one or both of the trade associations to file a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, challenging the merits of the original ‘Constrictor Rule’ of 2012.”

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), likewise, is blasting the proposed move as unfair to lawful breeders and the industry in which they ply their trade.

“This rule is an unnecessary federal intrusion into state wildlife management and misuse of the Lacey Act,” a posting on USARK’s website, said. “Listing of these snakes will create felons out of tens of thousands of pet owners, hobbyists and collectors, and will destroy small businesses across the country in states where there is zero likelihood of captive-bred snakes establishing themselves in the wild.”

Central to USARK’s argument is the contention that captive-bred snakes among the species listed are incapable of establishing themselves in the wild throughout most of the United States, and thus, could not be a threat to the public.

“There is absolutely no evidence showing these species to be a threat to public safety and no science to support the fact that these species can become injurious throughout the United States,” USARK asserted. “The only potentially habitable climate lies in extreme southern Florida, and the issue has been addressed locally by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”

The proposed rule is expected to be finalized early in 2014.

- Dan Calabrese

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