Here's a copy of the email I sent to the Surrey Leader in response to a rather pro-RRR editorial. Forgive the poor spelling, it was late.
I just read an editorial regarding the current issues raised from the story regarding Rain Forest Reptiles. One I would like to say that I totally oppose the stance that Paul Springate has taken regarding the exotic pet industry. His tactics are deplorable, and his facts highly questionable. The husbandry pracitces of this instutution would be worth a public investigation.
Secondly, to say that a bann is the only solution to unwanted exotics is purely foolish and myopic. Banning these animals will not eliminate the problem. The problem lies not with those that are responsible keepers, but those that impulse buy these animals. I agree that no everyone should own a African Rock Python or any of the giant snakes or lizards. There are however those that are prepared and skilled enough to care for these animals. The question is how to cut out those that impulse buy these animals, or those that are seduced by the "cool" factor?
I think the solution can be found in Australia. In Australia, inorder to puchase and keep reptiles of any kind, a person has to qualify for a license. This is a graduated process, by which a person is granted a beginner level permit, enabling the Keeper to obtain reptiles that are easier to to keep. If all goes well for one year, then the person can apply for the next level. Before the license is granted, the person applying has to prove that they are compitent to care for these animals, and I believe a home inspection is part fo the process.
I think this is a policy that Canada as a whole needs to adopt. I also feel that a hefty fee should come with the license too. This I believe will make people stop and think about what they are getting into when they consider buying a reptile or any exotic.
I also ask why there isn't the same movement to bann dogs, cats, or horses as pets? I go to my local SPCA and see it over flowing with dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, hamsters, birds, and hear cases of cruelty towards horses. If one applies the same logic, then it is clear that trade in these animals should also be banned.
Those same people that wish to bann reptiles in the pet trade would also have people believeing that these animal were taken from the wilds of their home lands. Also not true. While there are wild caught speicmens available in the trade, the vast majority of reptiles on the market are captive bred and born. Many thousands are being produced every year some speciemens
costing over $100 000USD . Look to breeders such as Bob Clark, Mike Wilbanks, New England Reptile Distributors, VPI, just to name a few. These are large scale breeding operations that produce thousands of high quality, well cared for animals. In Canada our large breeders are not hard to find either. Henry Piorun, Todd Constable, Don Patterson, again just to name a
I would also encourage people not to discount the conservation aspect of the reptile industry. There are some very well respected scientists that are behind the conservation through commercialization model. People like Dr. Fry of Australia, Mark O'Shea of the U.K. have spoken out infavour of this school of thought. The sad part is that some animals are nearly extict in
their natural setting, but thrive in captivity. The Hogg Island Boa, and the Figian Banded Iguana come to mind.
For now though, people will buy exotics for the cool factor. Some will buy them because they truely are committed to their husbandry, and the propigation of the various species. It is for the later, and for the contiued survival of these animals, that a licensing process needs to be adopted inorder to maintian an ethical standard for the care of these animals.