On Friday, September 21st, the US House Judiciary Committee finally reported out HR 511. The release was made on the last day before Congress broke for the upcoming elections. HR 511 was actually passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 28, 2012, where it had been languishing for months. This bill, if passed as currently drafted, would add 9 constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife List of the Lacey Act. HR 511 is a rewrite by Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) of SB 373 which USARK defeated in 2010.
The release of HR 511 comes on the heels of a very productive visit to Capitol Hill by USARK and the National Geographic Society Resident Herpetologist, Dr. Brady Barr. USARK and Barr were well received by members of the Judiciary, as well as members of the House Natural Resources (HNR) Committee, where HR 511 will likely receive another hearing.
Barr highlighted the growing body of scientific evidence that stands in stark contrast to the controversial science from US Geological Survey underpinning the initiative. USARK went on to illustrate the economic damage being done to small businesses targeted by HR 511 and the recent rule-making by US Fish & Wildlife Service that added 4 constricting snakes to the Injurious Wildlife List.
USARK Consultant Joan Galvin of the law firm Kelley Drye stated, "Based on the Judiciary Committee's hearing and the accompanying report issued by staff, we believe that the members did not thoroughly understand the ramifications of the bill and the economic impact to our industry. We are hopeful that the HNR Committee will have the opportunity to hold a hearing on HR511 when Congress returns to allow our industry to set the record straight as to the misrepresentations made about the underlying science and risks to ecosystems, as well as about the substantial economic impact and unnecessary restrictions on our ability to keep, breed, trade and collect the 9 constricting snakes. USARK's discussions with HNR staff continue and we are ready to participate fully".
USARK urges Committee members to remember Judiciary Member, and House Oversight & Government Reform Chair, Darryl Issa's (R-CA) characterization of the issue as a "job killer," and a terrible case of "government overreach".
USARK hopes to be able to set the record straight in a hearing at the HNR Committee, but remains vigilant especially in regards to the 'lame duck' session in the wake of elections.
***WARNING- There has been much misinformation floating around on the internet. USARK is the only national organization dedicated to the herp community and is engaged at the highest levels on federal and state issues. We are very careful to make sure our information is accurate. Beware of sources that do not have first-hand knowledge. If you want to get the best information contact USARK directly or come to NARBC Tinley Park in Chicago where USARK representatives will be on hand to discuss issues.