Tuesday (April 7) at 2:00 PM was the first hearing regarding USARK's lawsuit, which lasted three hours. It was obvious that Judge Moss had reviewed all briefs, including the brief submitted by USARK just two hours before the trial.
Judge Moss did not make a ruling on the preliminary injunction (PI) from the bench. The judge had received dozens of pages from FWS and USARK in only 24 hours so it was understood that he requested more time to review the information.
Yesterday (April 8) a schedule was set by the Court and both parties. Judge Moss will rule on the PI on May 7 (30 days). There will be additional briefs submitted by both parties during this time and Judge Moss will take the final 10 days to review all new information before making a ruling.
If ruled upon favorably, the Court will issue a cessation of enforcement (which began today, April 9). That would mean interstate transportation and importation (or possibly only interstate transportation) can continue as usual. May 7 will not be a final ruling on the lawsuit, only the preliminary injunction.
Of key importance, Judge Moss issued an order granting the filing of USARK's second amended complaint. This was critical as without this approval USARK's complaint would not include reticulated pythons or Green anacondas. Our case would also have lacked the declarations provided by several members of the Reptile Nation.
Two members of USARK's D.C. team (attorneys David Frulla and Shaun Gehan) presented oral arguments and provided exemplary testimony. One example included mention from FWS that affected breeders had five years to prepare for this listing. Gehan rebutted with several responses. There was no reason to assume these species would be listed, especially as the USGS study used for these listings indicates that only two continental states, Florida and Texas, have potentially suitable habitat. Both states already regulate these species. Why would the Reptile Nation presume federal action was required to regulate the additional 47 continental states? Hawaii already has an importation ban. If the newly-listed snakes are indeed the unquestionable and devastating invasive species, as proposed by FWS, why were they not listed in 2012 with the original four species?
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has decided to involve themselves. They were present at the hearing but not allowed to speak. HSUS is publicly (posted directly on their website) against the ownership of ALL herps as pets, from geckos to frogs to snakes. It's obvious they seek to influence the Court to favor their animal rights agenda. We'll comment more on this later.
USARK again represented the Reptile Nation well. Our attorneys were persuasive and knowledgeable while skillfully handling all questions.
USARK's head lobbyist Joan Galvin, USARK counsel Rick Stanley, declarant David Riston, USARK President Phil Goss, supporting herpers/outside counsel, and additional Kelley Drye personnel were also present. USARK will continue to move forward in response to this over-reaching and unjust action.
North Carolina Primate and Large Mammal DWA Legislation
While it doesn't include reptiles, USARK announced a DWA bill introduced in North Carolina on our Facebook page. We also alerted groups and parties that will be affected. H554 has been introduced as, "An act providing for protection of the public against the health and safety risks that certain dangerous wild animals pose to the community." The bill defines "dangerous wild animal" as the below:
a. Order Carnivora:
1. Family Canidae: red wolves (Canis rufus) and gray wolves (Canis lupus).
2. Family Felidae: all species of felids, excluding domestic cats (Felis catus), and including hybrids of lions (Panthera leo), tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (Panthera pardus), clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa, Neofelis diardi), snow leopards (Panthera uncia), jaguars (Panthera onca), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), and mountain lions (Puma concolor).
3. Family Hyaenidae: all species of hyena and aardwolf.
4. Family Ursidae: all species of bears.
b. Order Primates: all species, excluding humans.
This is the standard DWA legislation we have seen in recent years allowing current owners to keep their animals but they must obtain liability insurance, permits and meet other requirements. View the bill at www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-NC-H554.pdf.
The bill was referred to the Judiciary II Committee. Committee members and sponsors should be contacted to voice opposition. Remember to be professional and civil at all times when contacting legislators.
Legislator contact information can be found at www.ncleg.net/gascripts/Committees/Committees.asp?sAction=ViewCommittee&sActionDetails=House+Standing_29. Bill sponsor information can be found at www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2015&BillID=H554. Simply click on the names at the two above links to get contact information.
USARK will monitor the bill for any amendments that will affect the Reptile Nation, as well as cooperate with other exotic animal organizations.
Information for making donations online and via check/money order can be found at www.usark.org/reptile-defense-fund-2/. You can make one-time, weekly, monthly or annual donations. You can also include a message that will be posted on the Legal Defense Fund Donor Wall at www.usark.org/usark-announcement/reptile-defense-donor-wall/ for all to see. You can even choose to make your donation or donation amount anonymous. Thanks for your support as we battle FWS to restore the freedoms of the Reptile Nation.
There is a new anytime RAACA! Check out the format for listing auctions to benefit USARK via RAACA USARK Auctions at www.facebook.com/groups/1623588901209232/. These auctions will allow donations at any time and not just during scheduled fundraisers. Anyone can bid, donate and support the Reptile Nation!
RAACA USARK Auctions raised over $2,600 during their first three weeks. Thank you, RAACA, Jordan, Tammy, Houssam, Christine, donors and all the admins in this group!