USARK PRESS RELEASE – January 2013

USARK announces that Andrew Wyatt has tendered his resignation as CEO and president of USARK, the organization that he co-founded in 2008, due to philosophical differences and in order to pursue other interests, effective December 31, 2012. USARK wishes Wyatt well on his future endeavors and Wyatt wishes nothing but the best for the reptile industry.

USARK is the largest, and most well-funded, pro reptile-keeping organization in the history of US herpetoculture. Going forward, USARK has an aggressive game plan for 2013 which includes:

1)    Defending against federal legislative and requlatory restrictionsIn 2011-2012, USARK successfully blocked HR 511 which would have prohibited the import and interstate transport of nine constrictor species. USARK remains committed to defeating any and all similar legislation in the new Congress which convenes this week in Washington and to keeping up the pressure on the USFWS to prevent the addition of additional species as injurious under the Lacey Act.   To advance this goal, USARK is compiling an up to date inventory and analysis of all new studies and related publications rebutting the USGS findings that have been published since the public comment period on the rule ended.  Additionally, USARK will work diligently to put USFWS on notice that no final rule should be made without the opportunity to submit new information for the record, and for consideration for any future rulemaking on this issue. New research that has come to light undermines the current justification for ruling in favor of banning constrictor species.

2)    State legislation & USARK - Mobilizing the Grass RootsUSARK is committed to working at the grassroots level to ensure that our voices are heard    By Reaching out to major herp stakeholders (reptile breeders) in each state and setting up USARK Stakeholder Ambassadors to help fight anti-herp legislation in locally, we can make a difference. USARK will offer expertise and support in fighting anti-herpetoculture legislation, in addition to offering the services of a lobbyist to help in the fight at the state level.

3)    CITES and the United States Endangered Species Act: Currently, US taxpayers are paying to fund studies of non-native species that are listed on the US Endangered Species Act. There are just over 2000 total species listed under the US Endangered Species Act, of which over 600 species are foreign and are not native to the USA. These species are already protected through CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) of which the USA is a member. There is no need to further protect foreign species by listing them under the US Endangered Species Act, which restricts ownership, prevents establishment of assurance colonies, and prevents US breeders from moving these animals across state lines or exporting them out of the USA (including export back to their range country).

4)    USARK & NRAAC: This past year, the NRAAC put on the first annual Reptile and Amphibian Law Symposium & Workshop which was cohosted by PIJAC, the ARAV (Association of Reptilian & Amphibian Veterinarians), and the East Texas Herp Society. This event brought together major stakeholders from industry with lawmakers and government officials that play a key role in herp-related legislation. The NRAAC has proven to be an important resource for news, education, and serves as a vehicle to bring together people and organizations to discuss important issues. USARK’s president of the Board, Gary Bagnall, attended the 2012 symposium. USARK fully supports the efforts of the NRAAC and is looking forward to working closely with the NRAAC in 2013.

5)    USARK & PIJAC: USARK is committed to working closely with PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council) on the issue of the release/escape of non-native species in the US. This is an extremely important issue for the reptile industry and for USARK stakeholders. PIJAC has a 10 year head start on this issue and USARK needs to partner with them and report back to you, our esteemed membership.

6)    EDUCATION: Produce a series of educational videos starting with the proper husbandry and handling of large constrictors. We need to be proactive in this area to show that we are a responsible industry.

USARK BUDGET: Last year USARK brought in $300,000 of which 35% went to our lobbyist in Washington DC, 30% went to the former president’s salary, and 30% funded operating expenses (travel, hotel, t-shirt printing, etc.). In order to operate effectively, we need to raise $500,000 annually which will allow USARK to hire a full-time office administrator, fund important scientific studies, and pay expensive legal fees in the fight against anti-herp legislation.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! If you have not renewed your membership, please visit the USARK website and do it now. You are a stakeholder and each member is very important to USARK. It is your membership that enables USARK to protect our rights to keep reptiles and amphibians in captivity! Your support of just $5 a month can make a BIG difference!

BREEDERS, PROFESSIONALS & MAJOR STAKEHOLDERS (you know who you are): USARK has a new membership category called “USARK Platinum Member”. If you pledge $1000 per month to USARK for 12 consecutive months, you will enjoy the following privileges:

  • A seat on the USARK executive platinum committee.
  • A USARK Platinum Member plaque to hang in your home or business.
  • A USARK Platinum Member banner to put on your website.
  • T-shirts for your entire staff (up to 20 shirts).
  • An invitation to our annual USARK executive committee dinner for up to 4 people in your organization.