Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Big snakes

While I currently do not own any snakes of my own. I have in the past, I know that a lot of falconers also share a love of reptiles of all kinds. Right now there is a battle going on in government about the ban on the importation of large snakes into the United States.

Python shirt from here.

The USGS has reported on the topic and they have determined that the danger of large snakes being let loose and breeding in Florida is too high. They support the ban on importation of these snakes.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers disagrees and calls the USGS report unscientific. National Geographic has done a nice job of trying to put forth a balanced argument on the debate without resorting to the sensationalism of other media outlets.

This is a hard topic to cover as so many people have been bombarded with disinformation about so many reptiles, and there is so much irrational fear of snakes in general (Think about the movies "Snakes on a Plane", or "Ananconda"). Peopel need to use their heads in situations like this, not their fear.

Biologists and veterinarians are urging the U.S. Congress to hold off on a ban on trade in pythons and other large exotic snakes until research into how much of a threat they pose to U.S. ecosystems has been thoroughly reviewed by independent scientists.

In a letter to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (full text at the bottom of this blog entry), an independent group of scientists characterized a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report being touted as the justification for a ban on import and trade in pythons as "unscientific," stated a news release issued by United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK).

USARK President Andrew Wyatt presented written testimony to Congress last month. "It is our belief that best management practices and professional standards specific to certain reptiles is what is needed, not draconian measures that will only succeed in destroying a viable industry," he said. (Read a summary of Wyatt's testimony.)

Congress is weighing a ban on the importation of large snakes like pythons and boas following a report by the USGS earlier this year that stated that climate conditions might be conducive to the spreading of feral Burnese pythons across much of the southern part of the United States.

"The independent group of scientists and herpetologists, including professors from the University of Florida, Arizona State, and Texas A&M among others penned members of Congress in response to comments made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) during a November 6th hearing on H.R. 2811, a bill that could determine the fate of much of the reptile trade in the United States," the USARK statement said.

"During that hearing USFWS Deputy Director Dan Ashe characterized the USGS report as "peer-reviewed science", a claim that struck a nerve within the scientific community.

"It is a misrepresentation to call the USGS document 'scientific'" stated the scientists," USARK said. "As written, this [USGS] document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies, as its content is not based on best science practices, it has not undergone external peer-review, and it diverts attention away from the primary concern.

Read the whole article and weigh in yourself.


Anonymous said...

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Doug said...

Thanks for stopping in. It is an eclectic little blog but I enjoy it.
Take care,