USARK Meets with Department of the Interior and USFWS

On Friday, April 12, USARK President Phil Goss and USARK's Washington legal counsel from Kelley Drye met with senior staff at the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to press the case for withdrawal of the remaining rule and reversal of the current rule designating several snake species as injurious under the Lacey Act.

Goss underscored the seriousness of the legal problems identified by Kelley Drye in USARK's recent letter to USFWS Director Dan Ashe. USARK's counsel highlighted faults with the agency's compliance with regulatory procedures and an overall lack of reasoned analysis. USARK detailed a pattern of "cherry-picking" favorable scientific data, ignoring or dismissing contrary research, the failure to conduct an adequate environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other serious legal infirmities.

Interior officials indicated that the agency intends to announce a decision as to whether or not to list the remaining five species in the near term, but stopped short of providing any information as to which, if any, of the remaining species would be listed. Goss and counsel reiterated that the science did not support the current listing proposals for the remaining species and that the impact on USARK members and pet owners across the country would be devastating and disproportionate to any potential or perceived risks.

"Our position remains unchanged," said Goss. "We oppose the listing of any of the remaining species and are committed to fighting any such restrictions with all of the resources at our disposal. Our legal case is strong and we fully intend to fight for the rights of our members to protect their freedom to engage in their passion."

How you can help:

The public comment period has closed in regards to this listing. You may still contact Dan Ashe and USFWS to voice your opinion. Contact information and a sample letter are provided below. Remember to be completely professional and civil. Acting otherwise will only hurt our cause.

It only takes two minutes. Simply visit this link and follow these directions:

1. Fill out your first and last name
2. Choose your state
3. Choose your country
4. Enter your email address
5. Copy and paste the below letter or write your own (be professional and civil)
6. Click "Submit Form"
7. Thanks for supporting your herp community!

Director Ashe and United States Fish and Wildlife Service,

I urge you to withdraw the pending proposal to list the remaining constrictor snake species as injurious under the Lacey Act and also encourage you to take a hard look at the science used to warrant the previously listed snakes as injurious. The science used does not support the current listing proposals for the additional species and listing these snakes would not only devastate the reptile industry economically, it would also destroy the right for tens of thousands of Americans to keep snakes they love.

As a responsible reptile keeper and someone who appreciates nature, I commend your efforts to protect our environment. However, prohibiting species of reptiles that are already widely held as pets without proper cause only removes our connections with nature and would lead to less appreciation for the natural world. If we lose our pets, we will lose our compassion for all animals.

I appreciate your time and hope you will see that America is about having rights and not losing them, especially when decisions are made based upon flawed science and pressure to take action due to sensationalized media reports.