Well, I'm jumping in on the tail end of this but couldn't stop myself from commenting.
Being the (annoyingly) detailed person that I am, I just read through H.R. 669 in it's entirety. I also read up on the Extensions of Remarks.
IMHO, it's going to be hard to get this through. Their big focus (if you read between the lines) is the impact on nonnative species such as the brown tree snake, coqui tree frog and the coconut rhinoceros beetle. All problems for Guam - the district the rep sponsoring this bill is from. Which, BTW, she admits were all accidentally introduced but feels that we need to have laws in place to stop the intentional introduction of nonnative wildlife before it happens. She only sites four specific (without detail of three of the four) areas that have had problems; Florida Everglades, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Guam.
Rep. Bardallo also stated the following:
Nonnative plants and animals are known by scientists to have been introduced into ecosystems in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the territories. Invasive, nonnative species can harm the economy, environment, other animal species' health and human health. Such harm ranges, for example, from depreciating farmland property values and loss of irrigation water to increasing spread of disease. Additionally, collapse of buildings, competition with native animals, sport, game, and endangered species losses, habitat alteration, and other ecosystem disturbances, have all resulted from the introduction of certain invasive species.
This is a silly argument - this has occurred over many decades. Some due to natural phenomenon, some by people over time, some by landscapers, "What beautiful species! Lets see if we can grow it back home..." and some even due to animal migration - consider their droppings
This is an area of study that part of my dad's PhD is in. Uh, not the 'droppings' specifically...
Also, there is already an Act in place that addresses this issue. Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to designate wildlife species considered "injurious'' to humans and prohibits importation of such species into the country. Her argument re: this not being sufficient though is also a little silly because she claims, "that to designate a species as injurious can take up to four years, at which point harm has already been done." However, you can read the deadlines OpenCongress - Track bills, votes, senators, and representatives in the U.S. Congress which all in all, fall pretty darned close to that four years Rep. Bardallo is concerned about.
In any case, given the wide breadth of what this covers (many, many, exotics - birds, lizards, frogs, snakes, various rodents, maybe even some dogs and cats?) and the uproar it has caused, it might be hard for them to pass this thing. If you google H.R. 669 you'll see all the various types of pet owners discussing this and it's possible impact. There are a number of co-sponsor but I still think that unless they make so major revisions it will be hard to pass. Keep in mind there are also several bills linked to this so, thiese this need to be watched and someone needs to give a good counter argument. Just because theirs is seriously flawed doesn't mean they lose. You gotta have someone point out those flaws directly, concisely, and knock out it each point that way. We can't just say, "because I love my pets and we've always been allowed in the past..." etc. On 2/4/09 it was referred to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.
Jeez, heck of a first post. Eh, time to go play 'peek-a-boo' with my little Olliegoo.
Thanks for the history, review and opinions on the bill. I have been thinking that the individual pet keeper and collectors have not been responsible for most of the foreign population problems (the introduction of iguana to the FL keys is one know exception) and scratch my head at why this is the target of the bill. Accidental imports might be just too hard to target unless we all stop trading. Boat bilges "cross pollenate" are waters daily so do we stop using boats?
All the most damaging ivasives were not from pets with the exception of feral house cats and dogs (which are excluded for some reason. Cattle, brown tree snakes, pine beetles, mosquitos, fire ants, tumble weed, mongoose, hogs, etc., etc. are all from agricultural or accidental introductions as hitchhikers from ships and have cause irreversible and substantial environmental destruction. The pet industry is one of the smallest players in this, they need to focus on shipping and agricultural regulations first if their real intent is to protect the environment.
In Hawaii, cats, dogs, rabbits and pigs have all caused significant native bird declines. The cats kill and eat forest birds, the dogs kill nesting sea birds and the rabbits on Ni'ihua eat sea bird eggs (the only population of carnivorous rabbits). The hogs promote mosquito populations which carry avian malaria. Yet all these animals are excluded. The only pet-based introduction in Hawaii is the Jackson's chameleon which has not caused any noticeable harm. Whoever wrote that legislation was wearing rose colored glasses. Why allow the most destructive animals and ban the least destructive???
VICTORY over HR669!!!
WE DID IT FOLKS!!!! Victory over HR669! You can thank yourselves and the Reptile Nation, for a hard fought Victory! Our nearly 50,000 grassroots letters and 1,000s of phone calls to the offices of the subcommittee members clearly prevailed at today's Insular Affairs Subcommittee hearing on HR 669. HR 669 in it's current form is finished. For anything to go forward it MUST be re-written from the ground up....and USARK will have a seat at the table along with other stake holders.
Delegate Faleomavega from Samoa said, "The letter and phone campaign hit the subcommittee like a BUZZ SAW". Harry Burroughs, of the subcommittee staff said, "I haven't seen a letter writing campaign like this in 30 years! You should be proud of yourselves." Take heart in the fact that the Reptile Nation stopped HR669 in it's tracks!!
We also need to thank Congressman Henry Brown, SC for helping us to focus our fight on the Subcommittee as opposed to the full House of Representatives. He is the one who instructed us to write real letters to be truly effective. He said emails are fine if that is all you can manage, but they can be filtered and deleted. There is no denying the weight of thousands of paper letters from American citizens. The Reptile Nation was responsible for 49,229 letters delivered to the Subcommittee in less than two weeks. Congressman Brown's staff made sure they all got in the door. 38,000 of those letters will be entered into the permanent record. Thank you my friends!
Credit should also be given to Bill Martin, a witness who testified at the hearing. He is the President of Blue Ridge Aquatics, a large multi-state Tilapia farming operation. They farm Tilapia as a food fish. He had some serious problems with the bill and the ear of much of the committee. His plain talk of how this bill would destroy hundreds of families hit home. What they do and the impact this bill would have on them parallels the plight of the Reptile Nation.
Senior Democrat staff from the House Committee on Natural Resources advised Subcommittee Chair Madeleine Bordallo that if she wants something to go forward she will have to go back to square one and draft a new bill. Then have another subcommittee hearing. When and if she does, USARK will be there to represent the interests of the Reptile Nation!! They probably will try, and that will be our challenge for another day. But Today VICTORY is SWEET!...... Celebrate today and rest, because tomorrow we must get ready to fight again.
Thank you Reptile Nation! Thank you Tom Wolfe. Thank you everyone who did their part.
Stay tuned... This fight has only begun!
A note from Tom Wolfe:
"The good news is, USARK engineered a significant victory which caught the attention of the entire membership of the Subcommittee and their staffs.
The bad news is this is just the first step in the process. Members of the Reptile Nation should be jubilant with this victory. However, our success should be measured, because the proponents of HR 669 will be back soon with another version of the same legislation. They will not rest, so we must not rest either.
Take satisfaction in a job well done and a victory well deserved, but know we all must rise up again to fight on because the battle has just begun!"
This is the first step keep calling and emailing till this bill is gone good work all.
From watching the video of the hearing, I would say that this bill will resurface (re-written of course) and will probably pass. It seemed to have fairly unanimous support from the people at the hearing, even though they all want significant revisions. I think it's inevitable that the animal trade will be much more difficult in the not too distant future, but I'm glad this bill did not progress as it was written.