S373 Letter Champaign

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Hi Everyone,

If you haven't already, please put together and send a letter to each of your state's senators opposing S.373, "The Python Ban". If you are unfamiliar with the bill, please watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7epX0h7G1s). Then, please visit http://www.kill-s373.com/ for a sample letter and information on how to add your letter to the letter champaign. These letters are being hand delivered to senators on Wednesday so there is no time to lose!

If you don't liek the sample letter on the champaign's site, here is a copy of the letter I have sent to be delivered to my senators and you are welcome to adapt it to yourself and your state if you so desire:

"Dear Senator _________:

I write to you today to request that as my senator you please oppose S373, aka 'The Python Ban'. As a biologist I share concern for the environment and I am for preventing the expansion of invasive species, however this bill is based on unscientific reports that are contradicted by bona-fide peer-reviewed studies, fails to address the issue at hand, and stands to hurt tens of thousands of businesses and families, including many in Florida.

During a November 6, 2009 hearing on H.R. 2811, the Companion Bill to S373, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Deputy Director Dan Ashe characterized a USGS “Open Report” (titled “Giant Constrictors: Biological and Management Profiles and an Establishment Risk Assessment for Nine Large Species of Pythons, Anacondas, and the Boa Constrictor”) as “peer-reviewed science”, thereby giving it credibility as justification for the addition of these pythons to the Lacey Act’s list of Injurious Wildlife. As a scientist I am offended by this characterization of the USGS report, as it did not go through a bona-fide external peer review and is based on a weak model with data from questionable unscientific sources. I consider misleading a government committee, whether intentionally or not, unacceptable and consider it my duty as a scientist to make sure this false characterization is brought to light.

In addition to being misrepresented as “peer-reviewed science”, the USGS report is contradicted by a more sophisticated study that has gone through the scientific peer review process (see: Pyron R.A., F.T. Burbrink, and T.J. Guiher. 2008. Claims of Potential Expansion throughout the U.S. by Invasive Python Species Are Contradicted by Ecological Niche Models, PLoS One 3: e2931.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002931). Most notably, the USGS report, based on a pathetic two climatic variables, predicts that one species could expand its introduced range as far north as Maryland, while the more rigorous model by Pyron et al., based on 19 climatic variables, predicts that the species will not expand its introduced range much further then it already has. The latter study is validated by accurately predicting the species’ natural range, a feat the USGS model does not even attempt. As concluded by a panel of 11 independent scientists, I believe that "this document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies".

The trade in reptiles here in the United States represents approximately 3 billion dollars annually and exports of high quality captive bred reptiles account for 82% of the trade worldwide. Thousands are employed directly or indirectly by the reptile industry. The trade in the nine snakes addressed in S373 is approximately 1/3 of the total annual trade. In a recent letter to the Senate EPW Committee the US Chamber of Commerce states "if enacted in its current form, this legislation would adversely impact tens of thousands of businesses". Our state alone stands to lose scores of jobs and this legislation will hinder an economic upturn in Florida, the US, and globally.

Most importantly, if passed, this bill will outlaw the import, export and interstate transport of these nine snake species but will do nothing to address the issue of preventing future invasive species or the expansion of currently introduced species. Recently, regulation has already been put in place in Florida to control the ownership and sale of four of these species. Additional legislation affecting states that are not at risk of invasion by these species is unnecessary and overreaching. More should be done to address the issue of invasive species, not pass unrelated legislation in an attempt to appease special interest groups such as PETA. As an example, rather than bankrupt thousands of families and businesses by making their livelihood and investments worthless and failing to curb the problem, an annual national permitting system for these nine species, based on the current legislation in Florida as a model, could prevent these species from entering the wrong hands and build funding which could then be redirected to fund projects to prevent and irradiate invasive species around the country.

Finally, there are an estimated 5 million reptile keepers in the US. Based on an even distribution of keepers throughout the country (which I would consider a drastic under estimate) this means there are an estimated 300,000 reptile keepers in Florida. I will not vote for anyone who supports this bill and I know a large portion of those 300,000 Florida voters won’t either. I would like to make it clear that a vote by you for this bill would solidify my vote against you and a monetary contribution to the campaign of any candidate running against you, both in the Primary and Congressional Elections, for the rest of your political carrier.

If passed, S373 will circumvent the scientific process for the sake of political expediency, bankrupt thousands of hardworking American families, including many in our state, and will cost you thousands of votes. Please say NO on S373. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Christopher V. Anderson
University of South Florida
Department of Integrative Biology - SCA 110
4202 E. Fowler Ave
Tampa, FL 33620
cvanders@mail.usf.edu"

Chris
 
I pitched in $35 to the auction at the Pomona show for USARK...... I forgot to sign the letters they had. They told us sending a letter wouldn't do anything because it would take too long... so instead they encouraged us to just fill out the letter they had for us and they would hand deliver them.
 
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