House Judiciary Committee amends and passes python bill.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday amended and passed HR 2811, a bill that would add Burmese pythons and African rock pythons to the Lacey Act as injurious species.
The bill, which would have added all pythons as originally written, now moves to the full House, which is not expected to act on it until September at the earliest, after its August recess.
If the bill passes into law, the Lacey Act would prohibit the import, export and interstate movement of the two python species. Reptilekeepers, including the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), and pet industry members are expected to continue to work with legislators in an effort to further amend the bill to limit its trade restrictions to the importing of the two species. This would protect the existing commercial trade of captive-bred pythons.
Andrew Wyatt, President of USARK, said that representatives expressed a "renewed commitment to work with us (USARK) on future issues."
Wyatt further noted that this bill would restrict importation of these python species, but would still allow for interstate traffic and trade of captive-bred species.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla), replaced the phrase “of the constrictor snake of the species Python genera” with the phrase “of the Burmese python of the species Python molurus bivattatus; of the African Rock Python of the species Python sebae.”
A related bill, S. 373, still sits in a Senate committee as originally written.
Even with the amendment, the bill would bypass the statuary listing process included in the Lacey Act, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). That process requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a risk analysis and seek public comment before listing a species as “injurious.” The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently conducting such an analysis, PIJAC reports.
PIJAC warned concerned pet owners that the legislation, if passed as written, would set a dangerous precedent of adding controversial species to the Lacey Act without hearings and sufficient study. That precedent could affect owners of other pets, including birds, fish and turtles, PIJAC reported.