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South Carolina: H 3985 “Dangerous Wild Animals Act”

ACTION ALERT

WHERE: South Carolina State

WHAT: H 3985, "Dangerous Wild Animals Act," seeks to ban possession of many species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals including boa constrictors, reticulated pythons, Burmese pythons and crocodilians. Under this legislation, "it shall be unlawful for any person to import, possess, sell, transfer, or breed a dangerous wild animal." The entire list of reptiles to be considered "Dangerous Wild Animals" is below and the full list of animals can be found in the bill text. Importantly, all species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be banned, too. As species are added to this list, they would be made illegal to keep and the vast majority of these animals are in no way dangerous. View ESA listed species at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ESA-List1.pdf.

This bill needs to be stopped. Share this with everyone you know in the herp, exotic animal and pet communities. Make your voice heard and shut this bill down now!

Key points:

  • Documents or records must establish that the person possessed the animal prior to July 1, 2013
  • "Grandfather" clause allows that pet to be kept, but no additional pets can be acquired after July 1, 2013

Complete bill text can be found here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/3985.htm

Reptiles to be banned by this bill:

( i) Order Crocodylia: all species of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gharials;

(ii) Order Squamata [those listed below]:

(A) Family Atractaspidae: all species, such as mole vipers;

(B) Family Boidae: anacondas (Genus Eunectes), boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), Burmese pythons (Python molurus), reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus), amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistinus), scrub pythons (Morelia kinghorni), Northern African pythons (Python sebae), Southern African pythons (Python natalensis);

(C) Family Colubridae: boomslangs (Dispholidus typus), twig snakes (Genus Thelotornis);

(D) Family Elapidae: all species, such as cobras, mambas, and coral snakes;

(E) Family Hydrophiidae: all species, such as sea snakes;

(F) Family Viperidae: all species, such as rattlesnakes, pit vipers, and puff adders;

(iii) All species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act (50 C.F.R. 17.11) as threatened or endangered are considered dangerous wild animals.

Additional Arguments (Talking Points):

Financial:

  • Similar legislation in Ohio has cost the state millions of dollars, including a $2,900,000 temporary-housing facility for  animals that could not be kept by responsible owners and another $950,000 for this year's budget.
  • This law will also cost South Carolina millions of dollars more to implement than the money raised from permits.
  • A proper fiscal estimate should be presented before hastily passing a law that will cost the state millions of dollars.
  • Money has been spent since the bill was passed in Ohio on June 6, 2012 by the state and legislators who are still making changes to the law.
  • Caging requirements have still not been finalized in Ohio, over 18 months after the law passed.
  • Additional financial hardships will be placed on pet owners by requiring permits, over-restrictive caging requirements and liability insurance.
  • These additional expenses will force many owners to surrender their animals, which will then be the burden of the State.

  • Other Points:
  • No member of the general public has ever been killed by a constricting snake species.
  • Only 10 deaths from large snakes are documented since 1990 in the entire United States. At least one of these cases is noted as fraudulent.
  • Boas are one of the most common pet snake species in America. There are 9 subspecies and dozens of localities of Boa constrictor. Some of these localities rarely exceed 5’ in length and 4 pounds in weight. That is hardly dangerous.

  • Exotic species of reptiles are also not a threat to the environment. They cannot establish themselves in South Carolina as the climate is not acceptable.
  • Extreme southern Florida is the only environment in the continental U.S. that allows a minuscule number of exotic species to barely survive in the wild. The Burmese python population has been in southern Florida since 1991 and has not moved north.

  • An estimated 70,000 residents in South Carolina responsibly own reptiles.
  • Reptiles are housed indoors and simply do not pose any public safety concern.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Fight for your rights in just a few minutes:

  1. Links to contact the 18 South Carolina Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs members are below.
  2. Simply click a link and enter your name, address, and email address.
  3. Be sure to type "NO on H 3985" into the subject line.
  4. Write a personal message or copy and paste the below sample letter into the "Message" box.
  5. Remember to be civil and professional. Acting otherwise hurts our cause.
  6. Enter the code verification.
  7. Hit Submit.
  8. Repeat for at least the 4 Wildlife Subcommittee members, but emails to all Committee members is even better.
  9. Sending the individual emails is the most important but you can also use the quick form at www.usark.org/campaign/south-carolina-h-3895-dangerous-wild-animals-act/.
  10. Share this page with all pet owners!
  11. Thank you for supporting your herp and exotic pet communities!
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Shortened LETTER TO COPY/PASTE for website legislator contact IS BELOW

I write today to oppose H 3985 ("Dangerous Wild Animals Act"). Bans are not the answer and this proposed legislation is unconstitutional. This bill will punish responsible reptile and exotic animal keepers and is overreaching legislation pushed by anti-pet groups that use special interest propaganda filled with partial truths. Learn the truth from your residents.

Over 70,000 residents in South Carolina responsibly keep reptiles. This bill could see the state of South Carolina euthanizing hundreds or thousands of animals for no valid reason. Some of the proposed reptile species are commonly kept as pets and many citizens will be affected. There are not public safety or environmental risks from these species.

The reptile sector of the pet industry represents annual revenues over $20,000,000 for South Carolina's small businesses. Even hotels, restaurants and other businesses would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from patrons attending reptile shows.

I implore you to vote “No” on H 3985 and uphold the freedoms of your constituents. Pet ownership is a matter of personal responsibility and not government action.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs members

Additional contact information (phone, office addresses, etc.) can be found at www.scstatehouse.gov/committeeinfo/houseagri.php.

Wildlife Subcommittee members

Ted Vick- Chairman: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1875567957

Stephen Goldfinch: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=682386282

William M. Hixon: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=849715808

Shannon Riley: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1556817995

Governor Nikki Haley:
 http://governor.sc.gov/Pages/SendMessage.aspx

James Smith (Sponsor): http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1711363431

Robert Brown (Sponsor): http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=220454519

Other Committee members

Nelson L. Hardwick: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=744318093
V. Stephen Moss: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1386931652
William M. Chumley: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=351704504
William E. Crosby: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=439772675
Kirkman Finlay, III: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=585795385
Stephen Goldfinch, Jr.: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=682386282
Patsy G. Knight: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1023863514
David R. Hiott: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=848863535
Heather Ammons Crawford: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=428977222
Chandra E. Dillard: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=479545397
J. Wayne George: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=665909011
Kevin Hardee: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=743749911
Kenneth F. Hodges: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=856818079
Mandy Powers Norrell: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1493181639
Edward L. Southard: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/email.php?T=M&C=1742613428