Maine and Florida updates.

Maine Update

Can you imagine killing endangered species that were born in captivity? That may become a reality in Maine and, apparently, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife ("DIFW") actually wants this language put into law.

Sadly, we're not making this up or sensationalizing this serious issue. It is just one one many major flaws with the final language being pushed by DIFW.

Without reading the entire rule, the following language does not sound particularly bad, but read the explanation below the excerpt:

"Any offspring that are born to Prohibited or Restricted species that are in the possession of a permit holder through this grandfathering clause must be euthanized or transferred to another facility approved by the department."

Per the DIFW language all species listed under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") and all species listed as CITES Appendix I will be considered "restricted." Now, you should be able to put the two together to see the problems with the new rule language. This is not just applicable to reptiles and amphibians, but it especially affects bird owners and aviculturists. The same rule applies to species listed as injurious, which means over 200 salamander species and many snake species, too. All that are born in captivity may be killed due to lack of foresight, misunderstanding of ESA, CITES, and the real threats to these species, and the unintended consequences of government overreach. If you're unaware, ESA includes many species non-native to the U.S. In addition, new species are added to ESA and CITES annually, which means your pet or species of interest could very well qualify in the near future.

While DIFW did add new language stating the above only applies 
to these species "unless the species is identified in another category in this Chapter or is on the Unrestricted List.," DIFW does not have a track record of adding species as unrestricted. For instance, while many thousands of fish species are kept by aquaculturists, only 330 are found on the DIFW unrestricted list. The same applies to herps. Over 1,500 species kept by herpers, but only about 100 on the Maine unrestricted list.

Why? Because DIFW actually claims that Maine needs to worry about invasive herps just like southern Florida does. We did not make that up. Another excuse lacking logical reasoning include safety risks to the public. Species including womas, Madagascar tree boas, tomato frogs and indigo snakes have been denied addition to the unrestricted list.

While many amendments specifically addressed in USARK's oral and written testimonies were included in the proposed final language, much of the rule change remains unacceptable. It continues to lack scientific justification, but the animal rights groups are very pleased with the outcome. That in itself should paint a picture of just how unjust this may be.

Examples of favorable amendments include:

1. Removal of all varanid species from the Category I Restricted list. This would have banned private ownership, even for desert species of monitors which weigh only a few ounces as adults;
2. addition of language "unless the species is identified in another category in this Chapter or is on the Unrestricted List," for ESA, CITES and injurious species. Previously they were all automatically included as Category I Restricted;
3. removal of all tortoise and iguana species as Category II Restricted.

DIFW field agents were already frustrated with the complex laws, and now they will be even more convoluted, causing even greater hardship. Instead of DIFW employees focusing attention on natural resources and native wildlife, they'll be bogged down with this mess.

While there is a glimmer of hope that the newly created "technical committee" will do a satisfactory job of creating and updating all these lists, it's certainly not definite. Plus, we don't yet know who the members will be for this committee. Additionally, the entire thought of these unrestricted and restricted lists seems tremendously absurd for a state with the extreme climate of Maine. Concerned about global warming and climate change allowing tropical species of reptiles to establish in Maine? Really!? If so, humans won't be around to deal with them so we're quite unsure why DIFW is wasting tax money and their resources to worry about it.

This final language must still be reviewed by the Attorney General and then signed by the Secretary of State. The two authorities can still be advised as to the serious problems with the DIFW proposal with hopes of finding an ally with common sense.

USARK is not yet finished in Maine.


Attorney General contact link: www.maine.gov/ag/contact.html

Secretary of State email: sos.office@maine.gov

LINK to final language: www.usark.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Maine-DIFW-Final-2016-b.pdf

Talking points and sample letters from the previous Action Alert (link below) can still be used when contacting the Secretary of State and attorney general.
 
Some talking point highlights:
 
1. DIFW completely ignored input from dozens of professionals with far more experience regarding these species than anyone on DIFW staff;
2. Ignored alternatives which would have been better for the animals and alleviated pressure upon DIFW field staff;
3. For a state with Maine's extreme climate, this proposal is an outright waste of taxpayer money and DIFW resources;
4. The proposal actually calls for the euthanization of endangered species (see 7.16). "Any offspring that are born to Prohibited or Restricted species that are in the possession of a permit holder through this
grandfathering clause must be euthanized or transferred to another facility approved by the department." The Category I Restricted list, by defacto, includes all Endangered Species Act and CITES I listed species, many of which are both non-native and commonly kept via captive breeding;
5. The list of justifications are completely absurd and not based upon any legitimate science or sound reasoning.

If you have not followed what's happening in Maine, this link provides all the details on what Maine animal keepers may be facing: www.usark.org/2016-blog/action-alert-maine/

Florida Venomous Update
September Commission Meeting
 
Time: 8:30am
Dates: September 8 - 9, 2016
Place: World Golf Village Renaissance Resort
500 South Legacy Trail
St. Augustine, Florida 32092

A presentation regarding revisions to the venomous reptile regulations will be Friday morning. We have included three links below, one of which is the PowerPoint presentation from FWC staff to the commissioners. We advise all responsible herpers who can, to attend this meeting. Venomous keeper or not, herpers should support responsible keepers. Remember, private keepers in Florida are already held to the same regulations as accredited zoos, professional venom labs and research facilities. The VRTAG, on which USARK holds a seat, has been doing their best to work with FWC staff to rewrite the language to address secondary containment and other amendments.

Whether you plan to speak or not, your support and attendance will be noticed.

Link to meeting agenda: 
www.myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings/2016/september/08/agenda/

Link to FWC presentation: www.myfwc.com/media/4052279/16a-venomous-presentation.pdf

Link to FWC memorandum: www.myfwc.com/media/4050942/16a-sm-venomousreptilerules.pdf

ALERT: Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2016 (“IFWP”)
 
The IFWP has been introduced again as two bills: H.R. 5895 by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and S. 3278 by Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY). These bills are similar to legislation introduced in previous congresses (i.e. H.R. 996 in 2013). Among other things, they streamline the process for injurious listings under the Lacey Act, and create new mechanisms for animal rights groups to utilize for advancing their agenda of removing all animals from our lives. The IFWP represents a flawed approach to invasive species issues.

Get all the details, bill text, analysis and more at
 www.usark.org/2016-blog/invasive-fish-and-wildlife-prevention-act-of-2016/.
The Path Forward: USARK on salamanders and Bsal

USARK discusses the problems created by an injurious listing for 201 salamander species and how the Bsal issue should be handled moving forward. While this article discusses salamanders, the broader picture can certainly be applied to other species. Find the article in issue #20 of Herp Nation magazine.

Link #1: Direct link to our article:
 http://hnmdigital.herpnation.com/publication/?i=301851#{"issue_id":301851,"page":36}

Link #2: For Issue #20 from the beginning: http://hnmdigital.herpnation.com/publication/?i=301851

Midwest Herpetological Conference
Septemeber 30 - October 2

 
Save This Weekend! The Chicago Herpetological Society is proud to host the Midwest Herpetological Conference for the fourth time. We are especially proud because this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the CHS.

Speakers will include:

Dr. Jonathan Campbell, chair of the Biology Department at the University of Texas at Arlington; Dr. Dale Denardo, 
environmental physiologist at Arizona State University; Andrew & Sarah Gilpin, world travelers and passionate herp photographers; Dr. Bree Putman, postdoctoral research fellow at UCLA; Roger Repp, independent researcher and columnist for the CHS Bulletin; Dr. David Steen,wildlife ecologist at Auburn University.

Registration:

The registration fee will include the Friday evening ice-breaker and the Saturday evening banquet / auction. Online registration can be done at 
www.chicagoherp.org/index.php?link=midwestconf16.

Location:

Hilton Lisle/Naperville, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle IL 60532, (630) 505-0900. We have arranged for a special group rate of $111 per night. To receive this rate please mention the group code: CCHS. Reserve by calling 630-505-0900 or online at 
www.hiltonlislenaperville.com. The last day to book a room, to guarantee group rate and availability is Friday, September 9.

Banquet and auction:

The banquet will take place on Saturday evening, followed by a speaker and an auction of herp-related items (inanimate items only). Attendees are urged to donate items to be auctioned.

Agenda:

A registration table will open at 5:00 P.M. on Friday evening and will continue throughout the ice-breaker, which will begin at 6:00 P.M. The registration table will also be open Saturday morning. The speakers will commence at 8:30 A.M. on Saturday. Sunday morning activities are still in the planning stage; details will be posted online.
  • Herp societies are encouraged to bring membership info, newsletters, etc. for display.
  • Table space will be provided on an as-available basis to purveyors of herp-related items such as books, shirts and cages. All we ask is that you: 1) make a donation to the auction, and 2) reserve space with us in advance.
  • If you have any questions, email MikeDloogatch @ mdloogatch@chicagoherp.org
CITES Proposals

Several herp, fish and bird species found in trade will be proposed for listing or appendices movement at the 17th Conference of the Parties held by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ("CITES"). CITES is an international agreement among governments with a goal to ensure that trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. While CITES seeks to protect and manage wild populations of animals, listings have implications for captive-bred animals, too. 
 

Find A Vet

 

Need a good herp veterinarian? The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) can help. ARAV provides a free Find-A-Vet service at http://arav.site-ym.com/search/custom.asp?id=3661.

 

Important Reminder
Injurious Wildlife Legalities
 

This is an important reminder to all herpers regarding species listed as injurious under the Lacey Act, especially those attending and vending reptile shows across state lines. Keep it legal!

REMEMBER: Species listed as injurious cannot be imported into the U.S. or transported across state lines, according to the current interpretation of the Lacey Act by FWS. Not only does this include nine species of constrictor snakes, but now also includes 201 species of salamanders per the interim rule effective as of January 28, 2016 (see "Salamander Injurious Listing" section below for full details).

USARK and the Reptile Nation await a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the court awarded injunctive relief removing the authority of FWS to prohibit interstate transportation of two species of snakes listed as injurious. Last summer, the Court ruled in favor of USARK, granting our members injunctive relief. FWS has filed an appeal on this decision in an attempt to overturn the preliminary injunction.

NOTE: You also cannot sell a listed species with knowledge there will be a violation as this could lead to accessory or conspiracy charges.

We encourage all show promoters to remind their vendors before each show of these regulations. The information should also be available for all attendees.

A sample responsible buyer agreement verifying that buyers are knowledgeable of all city, county, state and federal laws can be downloaded at www.usark.org/library/sample-responsible-buyer-agreement.

All species listed as injurious are illegal to transport across state lines unless you meet one of the two qualifications below:

1. For reticulated pythons and green anacondas ONLY: Transportation and shipment across state lines are legal if you have received your membership verification letter from USARK. Every time you personally transport these TWO species across state lines, you should have a printed copy of this letter on your person and easily accessible should an FWS agent request to see it.

You can find all the details on this verification letter and court ruling at www.usark.org/2015-blog/7182/. Injunctive relief only applies to those USARK members who were current on or before April 8, 2015. Even with this letter, there may be other prohibitions, such as no shipments into Texas or Florida. See link for full details.

2. Interstate transportation is legal if you have received a permit from FWS allowing movement for bona fide research, education, etc. That permit can be found at www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-42.pdf.

Herp species that are listed as injurious:

  1. Reticulated python 
  2. Green anaconda 
  3. Burmese python
  4. Indian python
  5. Northern rock python
  6. Southern rock python
  7. Yellow anaconda
  8. DeSchauensee’s anaconda
  9. Beni anaconda
  10. 201 species of salamanders: List at www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/pdf_files/List-of-Salamander-Species.pdf.
  11. Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis)
As always, part of being a responsible member of the herpetocultural community includes knowing any city, county, state and federal laws applicable to the species you keep or sell. This includes knowing the laws in places you travel to, and through, for shows.
 

Donate to the USARK Legal Defense Fund
 

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.
 
Reptile Events
 
Buffalo Niagara Reptile Expo: September 18 in Amherst, NY. Show details at www.buffaloreptileexpo.com.

NARBC Arlington: September 24-25 in Arlington, TX. Show details at www.narbc.com.

Sacramento Reptile Show: September 24-25 in Sacramento, CA. Show details at www.sacreptileshow.com.

Nebraska Reptile Breeders' Expo: September 25 in Omaha, NE. Show details at www.facebook.com/Nebraska-Reptile-Breeders-Expo-201168596616327.

Georgia Reptile Experience: October 22 in Atlanta, GA. Event details at www.gareptilesociety.org/experience and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gareptileexperience .

Tri-State Reptile Expo: October 22-23 in Amarillo, TX. Show details at www.tristatereptileexpo.com.

NARBC Tinley Park: October 15-16 in Tinley Park, IL. Show details at www.narbc.com.

Long Island Reptile Expo: October 23 in Brentwood, NY. Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/lifirst.htm.

NARBC Pasadena: November 5-6 in Pasadena, CA. Show details at www.narbc.com.

Tracy Reptile Expo: November 12-13 in Tracy, CA. Show details at www.facebook.com/TRACY-Reptile-EXPO-440367659415673.

Reptile Super Show: Pomona, CA. Show details at www.reptilesupershow.com.
 
National Reptile Breeders' Expo: Daytona, FL. Details at www.reptilebreedersexpo.com.

Western Maryland Reptile Show: Frederick, MD. Show details at www.mdreptilefarm.com/western-maryland-reptile-show/.

H.E.R.P.S. - Houston Exotic Reptile and Pet Show: New Orleans, LA. Show details at www.herpshow.net and www.facebook.com/HERPShow.

American Reef and Reptile Expos: Show details at www.facebook.com/americanreefreptileexpo.

Cold Blooded Expo: Overland Park, KS. Show details at www.coldbloodedexpos.com/kc-reptile-show/.

Lone Star Reptile Expo: Arlington, TX. Show details at www.lonestarreptileexpos.com/home.html and www.facebook.com/LSRExpos.

All Ohio Reptile Show: Hilliard, OH. More details at www.allohioreptileshows.webs.com.

Kentucky Reptile Expo: More details at www.kentuckyreptileexpo.com.

All Cleveland Reptile Show: Brook Park, OH. Details at www.facebook.com/pages/Cleveland-Reptile-Show/238480829509251.

Indiana Reptile Breeders' Expo: Clarksville, IN. More details at www.facebook.com/IRBExpo.

Snake Days: Sanderson, TX. Details at www.snakedays.com.

Croc Fest Crocodile Conservation Fundraiser: Event details at www.facebook.com/SaveTheCrocodiles.

Cin City Reptile Show: Fairfield, OH. More details at www.cincityreptileshow.com.

Cold Blooded Expo: Broken Arrow, OK. Show details at www.coldbloodedexpos.com/ok-reptile-expo/.

New England Reptile Expo: Manchester, NH. Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/nefirst.htm.

Midwest Reptile Show: Indianapolis, IN. Show details at www.midwestreptile.com/index.php.

New York Metro Reptile Show: White Plains, NY. Show details at www.reptileexpo.com/nyfirst.htm.

Repticon: Show details at www.repticon.com.

Las Vegas Reptile Expo: Las Vegas, NV. Show details at www.getreptiles.com and www.facebook.com/events/591811610945614/.

Portland Metro Reptile Expo: Portland, OR. Show details at www.nwreptileexpos.com/portland-metro-reptile-expo.

Phoenix Reptile Expo: in Mesa, AZ. Show details at www.phxreptileexpo.com and www.facebook.com/PhoenixReptileExpo.

Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group (TTPG) Conference: in Mesa, AZ. More details at 
www.ttpg.org/conference2015.html.

Armadillo Reptile Expo: Austin, TX. Show details at www.armadilloreptileexpos.com/austin-reptile-show.html.
 
SEWERFest Reptile Show:  Sturtevant, WI. Show details at www.sewerfest.com.

Pacific Northwest Reptile and Exotic Animal Show: in Hillsboro, OR. Details at www.pacnwrs.com and www.facebook.com/Pacific-Northwest-Reptile-and-Exotic-Animal-Show-533662919993443.

Chicago Herp Society ReptileFest: in Chicago, IL. The Nation's largest educational reptile and amphibian show! Details at www.chicagoherp.wix.com/reptilefest.

Lone Star Rattlesnake Days: in Austin Texas. Event details at www.lonestarrattlesnakedays.org.

Reptile Breeders Show: in Lodi, CA. Show details at www.thereptilebreedersshow.com.

Big Sky Reptile Expos:
Show details at
www.facebook.com/bigskyreptileexpos.

International Herpetological Symposium: Show details at www.internationalherpetologicalsymposium.com.

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