Scientists Characterize Justification for Congressional Python Ban as ‘Unscientific’
WILMINGTON, N.C., Nov. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a letter to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary an independent group of scientists today characterized a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report being touted as the justification for a ban on import and trade in pythons as “unscientific.”
The independent group of scientists and herpetologists, including professors from the University of Florida, Arizona State, and Texas A&M among others penned members of Congress in response to comments made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) during a November 6th hearing on H.R. 2811, a bill that could determine the fate of much of the reptile trade in the United States. During that hearing, USFWS Deputy Director Dan Ashe, characterized the USGS report as “peer-reviewed science” a claim that struck a nerve within the scientific community.
“It is a misrepresentation to call the USGS document ‘scientific,’” stated the scientists. “As written, this [USGS] document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies, as its content is not based on best science practices, it has not undergone external peer-review, and it diverts attention away from the primary concern. We encourage the USFWS and USGS to submit this document to an independent body for proper and legitimate peer review. Additionally, we encourage the Committee to review this document, not as an authoritative scientific publication, but rather as a report currently drafted to support a predetermined policy.”
H.R. 2811, Introduced by U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek (D-FL), who recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, could add all pythons, and even boas, to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act; a designation reserved for only the most dangerous alien invaders to our natural ecosystem. Such a move would prevent all import, export, and interstate transport of pythons in the U.S. The scientific justification for such a move hinges on a recently published report of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) entitled ‘Risk Assessment of Nine Large Constricting Snakes’, which attempts to paints a picture of large constrictor snakes as an immediate threat to eco-systems over much of the U.S.
SOURCE United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK)