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Old 07-09-2019, 09:36 PM   #48
USARK Action Alert: WV Reptile Ban

If you send your comments via email, CC your senators and delegate as well!


Action Alert: West Virginia Reptile Ban

By USARK on July 9, 2019

Comment deadline is July 22 at Noon!

The West Virginia Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) Board has released its plan to ban many species of reptiles. We are early in the process but opposition needs to begin now.

The below species will be listed as DWA's in West Virginia. That means no future ownership, registration of current animals, compliance with ZAA caging standards (which are designed for public exhibition) and expensive liability insurance coverage for any grandfathered animals. Essentially, this should be considered a ban on all of these species:

1. constrictor snakes greater than six feet;
2. ALL venomous snakes;
3. ALL crocodilians;
4. monitor lizards greater than four feet;
5. venomous lizards.

What a DWA listing means:
1.registration of current animals;
2.$150 annual permit fee PER ANIMAL, as well as $10 annual application fee;
3.compliance with Zoological Association of America caging standards (which are designed for public exhibition, not private ownership);
4.maintain a $300,000 liability insurance policy (additional annual cost);
5.ban on future ownership;
6.only animals owned before the effective date can be kept (no additional animals in the future);
7.complete the application found at http://www.agriculture.wv.gov/forms/...%20Maxwell.pdf.
8.no breeding of listed species;
9.microchip or apply "legible tattoo" to all registered animals;
10.no public contact (meaning no educational outreach programs);

This proposal is utterly arbitrary. There is absolutely no science to support these amendments.

If you missed it, owning two boa constrictors for 10 years would cost you over $3,000 for state fees. If you own five reptiles on the list, that is over $7,500 for state fee costs. Additionally, you must maintain an expensive liability insurance policy specifically for keeping these animals (not a homeowner's policy). The caging standards are also inconceivable for private keepers and were written for zoological institutions which display these animals publicly.

Legislators decided not to ban these species when the DWA law passed in 2014. All of these species were originally considered but USARK worked to educate legislators, as well as inform them of due process violations. We also wrote and had the amendment introduced on the floor during the last hours of the legislative session which removed crocodilians and venomous snakes. Richard Stanley spearheaded the WV efforts and USARK was successful in protecting responsible herpetoculturists, including stopping a ban on all animals non-native to West Virginia. Now we must fight again.

Unfortunately, this new proposal is likely spurred by some irresponsible reptile shows taking advantage of the work USARK did in 2014 and 2015. This is unfortunate. USARK works to protect those who are responsible and it is beyond frustrating when those who were not even involved in the fight selfishly erase all of that hard work and effort. USARK cannot state loudly enough that we work to protect responsible herpetoculturists and do not condone the actions of those acting otherwise.

You can read the proposal at http://www.usark.org/wp-content/uplo...hange-2019.pdf.

What to do:

Remember to be professional and civil at all times.

Contact the WV DWA Board immediately! The deadline to comment is 12:00 (noon) July 22.

Mail letters to:

West Virginia Department of Agriculture
c/o Madison Birchfield
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305

Send emails to: rulescomments@wvda.us

Talking Points
1.West Virginia legislators voted against listing these species in 2015.
2.The research and rationale against listing these species were already presented and agreed upon in 2015.
3.The lengths for constrictor snakes and monitor lizards are arbitrary and capricious, lacking any logic or scientific support.
4.Legislators already decided that a ban on these was a bad idea, and that still holds true.
5.Contrary to any claims of a "grandfather clause," this is a ban and not common-sense regulation.
6.The permit fees associated with this ban are absurd and atrocious.
7.The reptile species to be added cannot be considered threats when responsibly maintained and housed.
8.A ban on these species is unjust and overreaching.
9.Collective punishment is an unconstitutional form of government.
10.Laws should punish irresponsible people and criminals, not responsible citizens.

Sample Letter
(please personalize and edit)

Dear West Virginia Dangerous Wild Animal Board,

As a responsible reptile keeper and West Virginia resident, I oppose the addition of several reptile species to the State's Dangerous Wild Animal list. This proposal is not scientifically sound and is not supported by any legitimate statistics. Additionally, it is utterly arbitrary and capricious. This is either a personal attack upon reptile keepers or an overreaching measure to penalize irresponsible keepers by punishing everyone who keeps these reptiles, including responsible citizens.

Reptiles are kept in 5% of U.S. households as found by several national studies, so this proposal will affect many West Virginians. Prohibition of these reptiles was struck down by state legislators previously. They made the educated decision then and now this unjust proposal has resurfaced. I expect you to present legitimate science and sound logic to support this measure. My tax dollars are paying for this nonsense and I will do all I can to stop it.

Please accept that this is an illogical action and stop this proposal now. Do not add any reptile species to the state Dangerous Wild Animal list. Please research the history of this law and you will clearly see the species list does not need to be amended. Thank you for your time and understanding.


[consider adding city and state if WV residents]