What's Hot
MOST READ
What's Going On

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

loading...

OW on Twitter
OW on Facebook
Print Email

NEWS

Growing pains

The reptile industry finds that popularity is a double-edged sword

Photo: Jeff Gore, License: N/A, Created: 2011:01:16 15:25:48

Jeff Gore

Snake in a Box: At Repticon, breeders of large snakes displayed the animals they had for sale in plastic containers


Andrew Wyatt, president of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, the reptile industry's chief lobby, is less concerned with the proposed ban to import the snakes – "You can get higher-quality ones bred right here in the United States," he says – but is instead concerned about the regulation's larger implications for the industry. He argues that this is just the beginning of a campaign to rid the country of foreign reptiles, spearheaded by xenophobic nonprofits and enabled by federal regulators who "cross-pollinate" with the advocacy groups. "The big NGOs are trying to set a precedent that will change the way America looks at anything non-native to the United States," he says. "They have this ideal of returning things to the way they were 200 years ago."

Though Wyatt says the sales of the nine large snakes combined only comprise about 10 percent of the total reptile market, he still regards the proposal as "the biggest threat to our industry right now," and says he is devoting half of the organization's $300,000 budget to fighting the rule change.

Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the possible listing of the nine snakes as "injurious" in March of last year, the agency has received more than 50,000 citizen comments, according to Ken Warren, a spokesman for the agency. "We are in the process of rigorously reviewing all the comments, all the inputs and all the scientific data," Warren says, adding that the agency hopes to make a recommendation within the next few months.

In the case of the pythons in the Everglades, it's a matter of dispute as to where they came from – Wyatt and others in the reptile industry believe it was Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that scattered exotic pets throughout the area; Reed's colleagues think the snakes were released in the area by humans in 1985.

But Reed also says his hypothesis matters little in the grand scheme of things. "We will never know for sure how the snakes became established," he says. "But regardless of the proximate reasons, we do know the ultimate reason – we imported these animals for the U.S. pet trade."

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus