If you are a reptile and amphibian enthusiast who has been spending time under a rock (which actually is not too uncommon if you are a field herper), USARK was successful in quashing the overreach demonstrated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) when taking federal action to unjustly ban the interstate transportation of snake species commonly kept by reptile aficionados. The Court ruled in contradiction to the FWS interpretation of the Lacey Act. While FWS claimed that listing species as injurious banned not only the importation into the U.S., but also the interstate transportation of those species, the Court disagreed and plainly stated, “We agree with ARK.”
We filed our lawsuit in late 2013, and carried the course to a rightful ruling. There does remain our challenge on the listing the constrictor snake species as injurious, and we shall post updates as they are available.
Shipping of species listed as injurious between the continental states, including species of constrictor snakes and salamanders, can lawfully begin again this week (May 30). Note that any shipments must still abide by current state and local laws.
Before selling and shipping these species, especially the constrictor snakes, we ask that you review all the information supplied in this newsletter. While the husbandry of large constrictors is well understood and keeping them under human care is not a problem for individuals with the capacity and resources to do so, these are still species that are not suitable for novice and unprepared reptile keepers.
Keeping these snakes should not be taken lightly. Anyone keeping large constrictors should realize how large the animals may get, how much they will eat, how much they will cost to keep, how large an enclosure will be needed, how long they will live, and other all aspects of their care. Impulse buys of any animals should be prevented and avoided, for the sake of the animals, and the sake of reptile keepers everywhere. If you cannot afford or do not have the desire to provide appropriate housing, veterinary care, and all other high expenses associated with keeping these snakes, or any animal for that matter, you should not bring one into your home.
Also, please be aware of the market for these large snakes, and respect that it has not magically multiplied. There will always be a limited market for these species comprised of dedicated keepers. It is our responsibility to self-police and present ourselves as a professional community. We must do our best to educate prospective buyers and be sure they are willing to humanely care for these animals their entire lives.
USARK has prevailed and we did it for all the responsible keepers who unjustly lost their freedom to continue appreciating these animals. Despite the naysayers, detractors, and even grossly over-funded and fraudulent animal rights groups all fighting against us, we got it done and earned the principled ruling from the Court. Now it is up to the herpetocultural community to behave admirably and responsibly.
We appreciate the support of those who made this possible over the last four years, and look forward to witnessing the continued professional conduct we know triumphs in our community. Thank you, Reptile Nation!
Useful Tools and Additional Reading
USARK has created sample buyer agreements which can be easily edited to suit your purposes. Please review the two documents and decide which may be best for you. These forms may aid greatly when selling certain reptiles and amphibians, and may be utilized for any species.
Click here to download the documents: www.usark.org/library/reptile-acquisition-templates
Importance of Acting Responsibly in this Precarious Legislative Climate
We should not need to reiterate the importance of being a responsible keeper, breeder, and/or seller of herp species. Animal rights and “enviro” (fraudulent groups taking advantage of the system by raising funds utilizing environmental, scientific, and/or conservation-based façades) are constantly watching for us to screw up. All incidents and media reports (true or not) are documented by these consortiums. They want to remove our freedoms to responsibly keep and breed all of these animals, not just big snakes. Do not provide fuel for their radical agenda!
Please take just a little time to read and share this newsletter and links provided herein. Encourage every herper you know to be responsible. Educate new keepers and those outside of our world. Quite simply, if we present ourselves as professionals, we will be treated as professionals.
Click here to read the USARK Keeper Code of Ethics: www.usark.org/code-of-ethics
Click here for expanded thoughts on ethical herpetoculture: www.usark.org/2017-blog/expanded-keepers-and-breeders-ethics-discussion