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To say the least, I haven’t been a big supporter of regulations, especially regulations that impact the reptile industry. It’s been my observation that government officials tend to vote against what they fear, do not understand or can’t relate to. In layman’s terms, anything “outside the box” eventually gets banned or otherwise regulated. Well, guess what? Our industry and hobby are a little (maybe more) outside the box for most folks. For example, my main interest is in mountain rattlesnakes. I’m not even “normal” by snake hobbyist standards.
What I’ve come to realize is that though our industry and hobby present relatively little threat to the environment and human health, there is a strong (and perhaps growing) perception among the public and policymakers that we harbor dangerous animals. They’re concerned these animals might harm or even kill people, and could also have negative impacts on wildlife if they escape or are released. Certainly, most of us are responsible members of the herp community. However, prominent media attention to such issues as feral Burmese pythons in the Everglades impacts all of us.
We as an industry and collection of hobbyists need to work closely together to accomplish a few major goals (see “Three Aims” sidebar on the opposite page). Achieving them won’t be easy, but the good news is we already have a highly capable team of people ready and willing to help us. Many of you have heard about the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. Others, perhaps, have not.
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