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USARK Takes Action

Posted by Sonja K. at 12/19/2013 1:34:36 PM

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USARK Takes Action
The United States Association of Reptile Keepers filed suit in the U.S. Federal Court against the U.S. Department of the Interior, challenging the Lacey Act listing of four species of constrictor snakes as “injurious.” This is a powerful day for the Reptile Nation, as we fight to protect your rights to pursue your passion and defend your businesses against unwarranted and unnecessary government intrusion.

USARK has been planning and laying the legal groundwork for months to ensure the strongest case possible. Our key objective is to challenge the listing of four species of constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act and put the government on notice that we intend to challenge any additional listings, including Reticulated pythons and Boa constrictors. As an established trade association, USARK has the legal standing necessary to mount this challenge and provide the best advocacy and representation possible.

The decision to move forward was not made lightly, however, after extensive legal analysis and planning by the USARK Board and our legal team at Kelley Drye, USARK determined it was not in the best interests of our community to sit back and wait until a final determination is made on the “Constrictor Rule” and hope for the best. The challenge will be litigated by a team of Kelley Drye attorneys with extensive experience in regulatory challenges and administrative law. Kelley Drye is the most qualified team to tackle this and their documented success with animal-related issues is the reason they represent USARK.

Key elements of the suit include the government’s failure to respond to challenges to the underlying science relied on by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the question of whether the Lacey Act can be used to restrict interstate commerce in listed species. USARK has invested heavily to establish a strong record to support this legal challenge, dating back to the initial challenge to FWS' inadequate economic impact analysis. USARK commissioned the Georgetown Economic Services (GES) study and brought our case to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and the Office of Management and Budget.

In April of 2013, USARK presented the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Department of the Interior (DOI) with a 30+ page detailed letter demonstrating the Service’s many failures to meet its legal duties under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws. The letter highlighted flaws and manipulation of the science used to list four species of snakes as injurious. No fair examination of the evidence can support a ban on these species based on their potential invasive nature. USARK’s letter served notice to FWS that it cannot continue with listing the remaining five snakes without reopening comment and considering new science and information.

This legal action demonstrates USARK’s commitment to follow through on our promises to fight for your rights. Whether you are a hobbyist, breeder, pet owner or business operator, and whether you deal in constrictor snakes, other reptiles and amphibians or herp-related products and services, this landmark legal challenge is important to you and your future. 

This battle will be expensive and we must continue to secure funding. USARK appreciates all donations as this fight and our continued battle against anti-reptile legislation would not be possible without your support. Donations can be made directly on the USARK website at

You may also mail checks made out to USARK to:
USARK Reptile Defense Fund
3650 Sacramento Drive
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
USARK will keep you updated as information becomes available. Without your support since 2008, USARK and the herp community would not be capable or prepared to tackle this fight. We were treated unjustly and now we will prevail.
Brief Explanation of Action

Regulatory litigation begins by a plaintiff, here USARK, filing a “complaint.” The government denies the claims in its “answer” and subsequently produces the record on which the rule was based, including the rule, comments, analyses, and like materials. Parties establish a schedule for filing motions for “summary judgment” (briefs arguing the law and that facts favor their position) as well as briefs in response. The court usually hears argument lasting half an hour or more, but there is no trial in the commonly understood sense. Afterward, the case is “submitted” and decision rendered. There is no set timeframe for the judge to issue an opinion. It is also possible, due to the subject matter of this case, that other interested parties may seek to intervene or file “friend of the court” briefs in support of either side, which will also be considered in the decision.



 Comments: View Oldest First  

Macy "Mickey" K,
Posted At: 12/19/2013 2:38:54 PM  

Aimee ,
Posted At: 12/19/2013 4:17:16 PM  


Posted At: 12/19/2013 8:51:02 PM  

Tyler ,
Posted At: 12/19/2013 10:57:39 PM  

Donate please

Lauren ,
Posted At: 12/20/2013 11:27:35 AM  

Excellent. I will send a small donation after Christmas. Glad they are still fighting!

Tara ,
Posted At: 12/20/2013 11:44:33 AM  


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