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USARK Succeeds In California




The California Fish and Game Commission met on March 3, 2010, in Ontario, Calif. The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) delegation included: Director Gary Bagnall, Senior Advisor George Osborne, and myself. Many reptile industry professionals were also in attendance: Loren Leigh of LLL Reptiles, Ramy Guirguis of Reptile Super Show, Mike Barnes of California Zoological Supply, Jay Brewer of Prehistoric Pets and many others. USARK led a very successful challenge to head off potential regulatory damage to our California members.

On the agenda were two items important to the Reptile Nation:

1. Action to ban all nonnative frogs and turtles.
2. Public testimony regarding adding the entire genus Heloderma to the restricted species list.

USARK used their proven strategy of hiring professional consultants, engaging members and staff, testifying in person, utilizing the press and motivating massive grass roots action, which worked … again!

Actions Taken by the California Fish and Game Commission:

Agenda Item 12: Resolution on Nonnative Turtles and Frogs – The Commission hereby directs the Department of Fish and Game to cease issuing importation permits pursuant to Section 236 of Title 14 for any live nonnative turtles or frogs. (Research, Herpetoculture and the pet trade are EXEMPT.)

This will only affect turtles and frogs for food markets. The other option was to add turtles and frogs to Section 671 of the Title 14 restricted species list. This is still under consideration and would be much more problematic for the Reptile Nation.

Agenda Item 14: Public Testimony on Proposed Amendments to Sections 671, 671.1, 671.7, AND 703, TITLE 14, CCR, Regarding New Restricted Species Permits and Requirements (expanding to include entire genus Heloderma). Note: Additional public testimony is scheduled for the April 8, 2010, meeting in Monterey. The amendment adoption hearing is scheduled for the May 5, 2010, meeting in Stockton.

The commission clarified the amendment adoption hearing date as May 5, 2010. As this agenda was to receive public testimony only, the commission took no further action.

USARK wants to thank the concerted efforts of many members of the Reptile Nation in stopping what could have been a devastating change in California regulation. We have the power to decide our own future. Thank you again to everyone who participated. Join Us ... Protect Your Rights!

Andrew Wyatt is the President of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) and has been an avid herp enthusiast for more than 35 years. He has traveled the world and has had his animals featured in a number of television productions. For more information about USARK, click here .

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