New USGS Study Includes Boa Constrictor
by USARK Admin on Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:01 am

USARK has been made aware that the USGS will release their study of nine large constrictor snakes today... including Boa Constrictor. This will possibly be used as a trigger for a New Senate Version of HR669. Get ready and stay tuned to USARK updates. USARK is out there every day protecting the Reptile Nation from unfair attacks and legislation.

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USGS set to release controversial Boa & Python Study. Reptile experts question credibility of taxpayer funded study. Encourages lead federal wildlife agency to stay above politics.

Wilmington, NC October 13 2009- The US Geologic Survey (USGS) plans to release a new study on nine large constricting snakes… including Boa Constrictor, one of the most popular pet snakes in the world. The primary author of the study is Gordon Rodda, best known as manager of the failed 20-year government-funded project to eradicate the Brown Treesnakes in Guam costing taxpayers more than 100 million dollars.

The paper is expected to be a book length document depicting a scenario where giant constricting snakes are poised to take over the country unless severe steps are taken to take away the legal rights of individuals and businesses to possess and work with these animals. Accompanying the paper will likely be a map graphic that Rodda hopes will stimulate enough interest in this ridiculous scenario from the media and public to generate grant money for further study.

The content of this paper is expected to be so scientifically questionable that USGS stonewalled a formal Congressional Briefing requested by the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife. In August the Congressman made a formal request for a briefing on the controversial study. The timeline for release was characterized as ‘months away’. The Congressman has yet to receive a briefing and the study will be released to the public later today.

Andrew Wyatt of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) commented saying “it is interesting to note that this whole issue has been driven by the presence of the Burmese Python in Florida. It was likely introduced in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Great media interest was generated by Rodda’s previous USGS study which promoted the idea of a giant snake devouring the everglades and moving up through the southern third of the US. The study swept the media like wildfire (i.e.…‘What parts of the US mainland are climatically suitable for invasive alien pythons spreading from Everglades National Park?’) Rodda wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer money “studying” the Brown Treesnake in Guam after it was introduced from Indonesia by the government. Their effort to eradicate the snake from Guam was a monumental conservation disaster. Now they want to use that model here in the US to address Burmese Pythons. Since when did science morph from a methodology used to solve complex problems into a methodology used to raise more money for more studies?” Wyatt added, “feral cats and feral hogs are a serious proven problem all across the country, but they don’t play well enough in the media to raise the money a giant snake can. I hope this new study is not going to be more Made For TV Science”

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 safety, and maintaining ecological integrity are our primary concerns.

Although Burmese Pythons have been established in the Everglades there is no supportable evidence to show that they can move out of South Florida. The last USGS Python study was fundamentally flawed in a number of ways. It was immediately and roundly criticized by much of the scientific community. The most glaring mistake was to use the Indian Python as a basis for the study and then assume the Burmese Python is the same thing. They are related, but the Indian Python exists at higher altitudes and cooler temperatures. The Burmese Python is a more tropical lowland animal. The Indian Python is an endangered species and is not traded in the US. This issue has been blown out of proportion by the media, ambitious scientists and extreme special interest groups. Gordon Rodda is not a boa and python expert. His past track record is a dismal failure. Can the US taxpayer afford to finance Rodda’s venture into the ‘boa and python business’?

Hopefully the US Fish & Wildlife Service, who commissioned this new USGS study, will stay above the fray of politics and have a more even handed approach to this issue.

For questions contact:
Andrew Wyatt