United States Association of Reptile Keepers Position on Passage of HR669

The US Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) is a science and education based advocacy for the responsible private ownership of, and trade in reptiles. We endorse caging standards, sound husbandry, escape prevention protocols, and an integrated approach to vital conservation issues. Our goal is to facilitate cooperation between government agencies, the scientific community, and the private sector in order to produce policy proposals that will effectively address important husbandry and conservation issues. The health of these animals, public health & safety, and maintaining ecological integrity are our primary concerns. Our membership consists of breeders, dealers, equipment manufacturers, dry goods, food producers, educational outreach programs, zoos, serpentariums, rescue and rehabilitation organizations, TV & film producers, and hobbyists.

USARK is opposed to HR669 as written. This Bill is fundamentally flawed because it is an ideologically driven attempt to use legislation in order to enforce the agenda of powerful special interest groups. It is designed to end the trade in non-native wildlife using over exaggerated claims of an eminent alien invasion as a significant threat to agriculture, ecology, the economy and human health nationwide. If passed as written it would destroy the Reptile Industry over night. There is no evidence to suggest that the destruction of a 3 billion dollar a year captive bred Reptile Industry would have any quantifiable benefit.

The US Reptile Industry is not made of large “Too Big to Fail” corporations. The entire industry is made up of small family owned businesses and hobbyists. Following are some statistics that illustrate the type of damage to American families and small business HR669 would incur if passed:

According to the Humane Society of the United States report ‘Reptiles as Pets’:

  • Trade in Reptiles is a 2 Billion Dollar a year industry (not including ancillary business other than actual animals estimated to be another 1 Billion annually).

  • More than 18 million Reptiles imported into the US from 1989-1997.

  • 1.7 million Reptiles imported into the US in 1997.

  • 58 million Reptiles exported from the US from 1989-1997.

  • 9 million Reptiles exported from the US in 1997.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association:

  • 11 million Reptiles kept as pets in the US in 2005.

  • 1 in every 25 US households has 1 or more Reptiles.

According to the International Conservation Newsletter:

  • US accounts for 82% of reported trade in live Reptiles covered by CITES.

  • US is the worlds largest consumer of live Reptiles importing 2.5 million annually.

According to the United States Association of Reptile Keepers:

  • 500,000 Reptile owners would be negatively impacted by HR669.

  • Thousands of small family owned businesses would be destroyed by HR669.

  • Thousands more ancillary businesses supporting the keeping of Reptiles estimated to be another billion dollars to the economy annually include caging manufacturers, dry goods, equipment manufacturers, food providers, expo promoters, shippers, hotels, restaurants, etc., would all be negatively impacted by HR669.

  • There are at least 2 million Pythons and another 2 million Boas in captivity in the US today. These animals are extremely valuable, some worth thousands of dollars each, and would become worthless overnight if HR669 were to pass.

  • There are more than 7 million geckos, turtles, lizards and other reptiles in captivity in the US today.
  • Many families have the majority of their net worth tied up in these high end breeding projects. If HR669 were to pass they would be financially destroyed overnight.

Passing HR669 would destroy an economically viable sector of the economy in a time when every job is valuable. President Obama promised that there would be no legislation passed based on ideology and opinion without conclusive science to support those positions. There is NO Conclusive Scientific Evidence to support passing HR669, especially when examined in the light that it would, without a doubt, destroy thousands of American families and small businesses.

For more information about USARK visit http://www.usark.org.