I sent a note to a collector I do web work for in the Keys and asked if he thought the concerns over the lionfish invasion sparked this and he felt that the group working on this problem had nothing to do with the bill directly (he works closely with one of the primary researchers). He did feel that the problem added fuel to the fire.
This, to me, sounds like this bill has come around because too many irresponsible exotic pet owners of vertebrates and/or invertebrates have caused some invasive species to be released into the wild because they cannot sell them or feel that these animals should be free. Little do they know that urban areas and other climate zones are not the best for the animals. I have found salt water fish that have been dumped in a fresh water pond on my university campus; what idiot puts a salt water fish in a fresh water pond with a salmon bearing stream less than 20 meters away? This just makes me shake my head at the stupidity of people.
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 http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h669/text?version=ih&nid=t0:ih:33 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???