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Old 02-10-04, 01:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry This affects us all.......

WSPA Canada has decided to go after the reptile pet trade in Canada........

Here is a artical in their last bulletin .......A friend of mine as well as myself wrote letters to them ........attached is her letter and the very scary responce she got ........We all need to be aware of this and write letters to them ........It would seem that we as a community have no idea what we are doing and therefor are no better then the ones who keep dancing bears etc.......I for one am outraged about this whole thing........Take a look






And the emails.........The responces are in [ these ]


Dear Lynne Andrews:



Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. Iíve inserted my comments into the body of your email below.



I do appreciate you taking the time to write with your views. If you have further comments or questions, I would be pleased to receive them.



Thank you.



Sincerely,


Rob Laidlaw

CBiol MIBiol

Projects Manager, Canada

WSPA

World Society for the Protection of Animals

90 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 960, Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3 CANADA



Tel: (416) 369-0044
Fax: (416) 369-0147
e-mail: laidlaw@wspa.ca
Internet: http://www.wspa.ca









-----Original Message-----
From: Lynne Andrews
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2003 11:05 AM
To: wspa@wspa.ca
Subject: reptiles



December 13, 2003.



WSPA Canada



Attention: Silia Smith





To Whom It May Concern;



I have been a member of WSPA for many years, and have directed others to the organization.

I think WSAP is a wonderful organization.



[Thank you for your support.]



I am a veterinarian, and practiced in Calgary, Alberta (small animal and exotic practice) for 10 years.

I helped to establish Reptile World, in Drumheller, Alberta, and worked there for approx. two years,

which included caring for some of the animals.



I had a fairly large collection (mostly snakes) in Drumheller, which I managed with my family.

My main goal was breeding. Due to illness, I have had to give up my reptile collection. However,

I still know many people in the field.



And I take exception to your article "Welfare of reptiles ignored far too long", in the fall/winter

magazine. I am awaiting the results of your study with interest.



[Weíre currently finalizing the report. I expect to release it sometime during March or April.]



I hope you have looked at the horrific loss of wild reptiles to the skin trade, which has, at least traditionally, accounted for the VAST MAJORITY of wild reptile collecting, and threats to

endangered species.



[The investigation that WSPA Canada has been conducting has been focused on the trade and keeping of reptiles as pets, so we have not examined the trade in reptile skins. You are correct in saying that traditionally, one of the major threats facing many wild reptile populations was harvesting (both legal and illegal) for skins. While that threat remains, collection for the pet trade is also a major threat. Throughout the world, many reptile populations have been significantly reduced by pet trade collectors.]



I hope you have talked to some reptile breeders. While I realize that there are still some people

selling wild-caught animals, there are more breeders selling captive - bred animals.



[Yes, there are many more breeders selling captive animals, but there are still very large numbers of animals coming from the wild. Breeders can satisfy the demand for certain species at certain times, but they are unable to keep up with the overall demand for live reptiles. There are now more than 500 species represented in the pet trade (with 25 Ė35 species being the most common) and that number grows each year. Only a small number of these species are bred in substantive numbers in captivity.]



Reptiles need to

be healthy and well adjusted to their living conditions to breed viably. The large number of captive

produced babies, which seems to excalate almost yearly, attests to more reptiles in captivity that are well cared for, from the hobbyist who has one pair of breeding cornsnakes, to commercial reptile breeding

businesses, and everything in between.



[While what you are saying may be true for some species, it is not true for all of them. Many animals will breed in clinical conditions that clearly do not satisfy all of their biological and ethological needs. For some, breeding may be triggered by the right set of environmental conditions, while for others it may be that the biological drive to reproduce overrides other factors. As you know, this is not restricted to any one Class of animals. Many animals (humans included) will reproduce in less than optimum conditions. Reproduction is not necessarily an indicator of high welfare.]





Breeding reptiles isn't an easy business, and it doesn't make a lot of money for most breeders. So most

of the people breeding reptiles do it because they love working with reptiles, and are very committed to providing an alternative to wild - caught reptiles.



[There is little evidence that captive breeding has actually hindered or slowed the trade in wild caught reptiles. In fact, while the number of private and commercial reptile breeders has grown, so has the trade in wild caught specimens. I believe breeders, who as businesses must also market their animals, may in fact be helping the market grow, placing even greater stress on wild reptiles. Captive breeding, both small scale and large scale, has also produced numerous opportunities for the laundering of wild caught reptiles.



Even large scale reptile farms that claim to be providing an alternative to wild caught animals often replenish their breeding stock with significant numbers of animals from the wild (often on an ongoing basis). Others claim to be producing captive bred individuals when they are laundering wild caught individuals or removing gravid females from the wild, hatching their eggs in incubators and then dumping the spent females into the pet trade. ]



I hope you have been to some reptile shows... The shows in Calgary (T.A.R.A.S.) stress education and care

of reptiles. Many of these exhibitors are very knowledgeable and eager and willing to answer questions.





[I have been to numerous reptile shows and sales. While many hobbyists talk about reptile conservation and welfare, I havenít encountered many who are active to any real degree. Most hobbyists seem reluctant to get involved in lobbying for an end to, or even a restriction of, the reptile trade. Since millions of reptiles in the trade, both wild caught and captive bred, suffer and die at the hands of inexperienced keepers each year, it seems that anyone who wants to protect reptiles would try to stop their trade and keeping as pets. Instead, reptile hobbyists typically fight attempts to restrict or eliminate trade, claiming education is the answer to the problems faced by reptiles. Unfortunately, the hobbyist community seems more interested in maintaining their right to keep reptiles for personal pleasure than anything else.



As well, Iím appalled that reptile hobbyists still keep the majority of their reptiles in grossly undersized, clinical conditions (e.g., small aquariums, sweater boxes, Tupperware containers) that do little to address their ethological needs. The way many reptiles are kept today (and the attitudes of many reptile hobbyists) are very similar to the attitudes of early 20th century zoo owners who didnít understand or recognize that their animals required more than a small space, food and water. ]





I hope you have visited Reptile World in Drumheller, Alberta (owner David Bethel). There, the animals are in great condition, and education is one of the prime objectives, especially with children and schools in Alberta. They also work with the Royal Tyrel Museum of Paleantology on some educational programs.



I hope you have looked at the history of herpetology in Canada. I am most familiar with Alberta's. Twenty years ago, there were only a handful of people collecting reptiles. Even in the last ten years, the number of breeders of reptiles has grown hugely. The number of captive bred animals compared to wild-caught animals offered for sale has risen dramatically. There are a surprising number of people that have been doggedly persisting with education about reptile husbandry, reptiles in the wild, and dispelling myths; campaigning against the capture and sale of wild reptiles; breeding captive reptiles, and influencing the industry in other ways.



[Unfortunately, I have not yet encountered any reptile hobbyists who are lobbying for an end to the import of wild caught animals, the mass-marketing of reptiles by box stores or an end to the keeping of reptiles in biologically-irrelevant, clinical conditions. If you have specific knowledge about hobbyist initiatives in these areas, please let me know. Unfortunately, the only politically active reptile hobbyists Iíve encountered are fighting attempts to curb the reptile trade. They promote entirely unworkable registration and licensing schemes that would do little, if anything, to help reptiles.]





Yes, some wild-caught animals are imported and sold. The number has decreased significantly, and I believe

will continue to do so. Yes, some reptile owners are not responsible, and I have seen some of the results of neglect and ignorance in practice. I think that's the case with all of the pet trade. But the level of education of reptile breeders and owners has risen dramatically over the years, and I believe, will continue to do so.



[During the past 15 years, the trade in wild caught reptiles (and the reptile trade generally) has grown dramatically throughout the world. The number of wild caught reptiles imported into Canada is still significant.



Your comment that some reptile owners are not responsible should be changed to most owners. While there are a few expert hobbyists who leave no stone unturned in their efforts to research the natural lifestyles and captive management of their reptiles, and who dedicate the time, energy and resources to their accommodation and care, these kinds of people are few and far between. Most reptile pet owners pay little attention to satisfying the biological and ethological needs (if they are known) of the reptiles they own. Iíve heard many claims from breeders and hobbyists about how educated reptile owners are, but I have seen little evidence to prove it. In fact, if there has been a widespread program of education (formal or informal), then it has to rank as an unmitigated failure of the highest order. ]





I hope you are aware that a few years ago, several reptile breeders (myself included), and David Bethel (Reptile World), worked with the Calgary Zoo and Alberta Fish and Wildlife to amend laws pertaining to which reptiles could legally be owned in the province of Alberta. This was a major step, involving several different aspects of the industry, to agree on which species would thrive in captive conditions, not be able to live and reproduce in Alberta if they escaped captivity, which ones would not provide health hazards to humans, etc.



[I appreciate any effort youíve made to help reptiles. Do you have any additional information you could send me regarding the Alberta initiative?]



I am curious why you initiated the study of reptile care in Canada. This industry is much larger in the

United States.



[The WSPA Canada office works in Canada. Other organizations, such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Humane Society of the United States have investigated the trade and keeping of reptiles as pets in the United States.]



Indeed, Canada's herpetological industry has been very influenced by the American one.

The importation of wild-caught animals into the United States far exceeds that of Canada's. I used to know a long-time reptile breeder in California (now unfortunately deceased), and have been amazed at the quantities of animals like Ball Pythons that have come to the U.S.



[You are correct. In fact, the United States is the largest market for wild caught and captive bred reptiles in the world, followed by the European Union and Japan. ]



But most of all, I wonder why WSPA has never looked at the Rattlesnake Roundups that occur in the United

States every year, during which wild rattlesnakes are captured, often using gasoline that affects many other

animals in the environment, kept in appalling conditions (no water, overcrowded, around lots of people), and tortured and killed. The numbers of these rattlesnakes are dwindling - no one knows if they are approaching

endangerment.



[As mentioned above, the WSPA Canada office is conducting this examination of the reptile pet trade. For this reason, its focus is Canada. WSPA will soon be working on several collaborative initiatives with provincial and federal agencies aimed at protecting native Canadian reptiles.]



I hope WSPA has done it's homework. I hope WSPA hasn't misdirected its priorities.



[The reptile pet trade is a rapidly growing, very destructive industry that involves large numbers of animals. That is exactly the kind of practice WSPA should be investigating. I understand the fascination that people have with reptiles, but that doesnít justify their confinement and suffering for frivolous purposes.]



Many of us are awaiting the results of your investigation.



Yours truly,



Lynne Andrews, D.V.M.
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Old 02-10-04, 01:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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...

That article started off GREAT! It was totally trashing wild caught reptiles, while saying that most pet reptiles were easy to keep and required minimal care. It got kind of sour after that, but I agree with 95% of that article.

Good read!
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Old 02-10-04, 01:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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But did u read the emails??????? They are implying that they want to shut not only the WC trade but the trade as a whole cuz we dont look after these animals like they should be .........And that we are akin to the old zoos in the way we look after them ?????? I cant believe that they say these things with out a shred of proof .........And seem to have lil or no care for what we have done for education and how far we have come in our husbendry practices .......

These are the things that make this so scary .......

[There is little evidence that captive breeding has actually hindered or slowed the trade in wild caught reptiles. In fact, while the number of private and commercial reptile breeders has grown, so has the trade in wild caught specimens. I believe breeders, who as businesses must also market their animals, may in fact be helping the market grow, placing even greater stress on wild reptiles. Captive breeding, both small scale and large scale, has also produced numerous opportunities for the laundering of wild caught reptiles.

[I have been to numerous reptile shows and sales. While many hobbyists talk about reptile conservation and welfare, I havenít encountered many who are active to any real degree. Most hobbyists seem reluctant to get involved in lobbying for an end to, or even a restriction of, the reptile trade. Since millions of reptiles in the trade, both wild caught and captive bred, suffer and die at the hands of inexperienced keepers each year, it seems that anyone who wants to protect reptiles would try to stop their trade and keeping as pets. Instead, reptile hobbyists typically fight attempts to restrict or eliminate trade, claiming education is the answer to the problems faced by reptiles. Unfortunately, the hobbyist community seems more interested in maintaining their right to keep reptiles for personal pleasure than anything else.



As well, Iím appalled that reptile hobbyists still keep the majority of their reptiles in grossly undersized, clinical conditions (e.g., small aquariums, sweater boxes, Tupperware containers) that do little to address their ethological needs. The way many reptiles are kept today (and the attitudes of many reptile hobbyists) are very similar to the attitudes of early 20th century zoo owners who didnít understand or recognize that their animals required more than a small space, food and water. ]

Unfortunately, I have not yet encountered any reptile hobbyists who are lobbying for an end to the import of wild caught animals, the mass-marketing of reptiles by box stores or an end to the keeping of reptiles in biologically-irrelevant, clinical conditions. If you have specific knowledge about hobbyist initiatives in these areas, please let me know. Unfortunately, the only politically active reptile hobbyists Iíve encountered are fighting attempts to curb the reptile trade. They promote entirely unworkable registration and licensing schemes that would do little, if anything, to help reptiles.]

Your comment that some reptile owners are not responsible should be changed to most owners. While there are a few expert hobbyists who leave no stone unturned in their efforts to research the natural lifestyles and captive management of their reptiles, and who dedicate the time, energy and resources to their accommodation and care, these kinds of people are few and far between. Most reptile pet owners pay little attention to satisfying the biological and ethological needs (if they are known) of the reptiles they own. Iíve heard many claims from breeders and hobbyists about how educated reptile owners are, but I have seen little evidence to prove it. In fact, if there has been a widespread program of education (formal or informal), then it has to rank as an unmitigated failure of the highest order. ]
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Old 02-10-04, 01:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I can't believe what I just read. Why would anyone who loves reptiles lobby to make it illegal to own them?? Rob Laidlaw says that a couple of time in the responce. Also if he believes that most owners don't take care of their reptiles then he should go into every single home that keeps them and look at how they keep them. I for one keep mine quite well, they get what they need and then what they like. And his efforts should be directed at the chain pet stores that are the ones importing most of the wild caught herps and then selling them to who ever wants "that cute little green lizard" I'm fairly new to keeping lizards (only a year or so) and I'm mad at how that articale (sp?) and letter were not only worded but how he seems to look down upon people who keep these wonderful creatures. I agree lots of the people who I know don't know the first thing about herps, but they also don't own any, and don't really want to. Once upon a time all cats, dogs and birds were wild caught, no one did anything about that. I'm sure that alot of the birds still are. I just wish that people who make statments like "Your comment that some reptile owners are not responsible should be changed to most owners. While there are a few expert hobbyists who leave no stone unturned in their efforts to research the natural lifestyles and captive management of their reptiles, and who dedicate the time, energy and resources to their accommodation and care, these kinds of people are few and far between. Most reptile pet owners pay little attention to satisfying the biological and ethological needs (if they are known) of the reptiles they own. Iíve heard many claims from breeders and hobbyists about how educated reptile owners are, but I have seen little evidence to prove it" would actually know what they are talking about. You can't know how owners actually keep their hgerps unless you go and see. Just because you take some poll does not mean it's fact. I never had anyone from WSPA come to my home and check how my lizards are doing. Has anyone here?? Has anyone ever taken an "offical WSPA" poll as to how they are kept?? It's just sad that we might not be able to show our children the wonders of these creatures because of people who think they are helping the herps, but are really not. They should teach people, not put the ones who try to make a difference down.
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Old 02-10-04, 02:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"biologically-irrelevant, clinical conditions. If you have specific knowledge about hobbyist initiatives in these areas, please let me know."

I'd like to know where the facts that we are keeping reptiles in "Biologically irrelevant clinical conditions" are. They are throwing that statement out, without any facts, no back up, no anything. Its absolutly ridiculous. I'd like to see THEIR facts.

I am wonder what shows, or breeders homes they have been too.

Frankly if they want to ban anything or help any species I think their efforts would be better spent on the GIANT stray cat and dog problem in Canada. Seems since reptiles have become popular all the pet activists have forgotten about this MASSIVE problem that far outweighs ANYTHING in the reptile world, here or in the US.

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Old 02-10-04, 02:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Do some reading about Rob, I sure have.

He used to work with zoo check, and my opinion is that he doesn't think any reptiles should be in captivity, good zoos included.

About this study they are releasing. Did anyone else get a request about 2 years ago to give information about the hobby and business, for a report someone was going to do for a business class or something? I thought it was a bit odd then, did not reply to the emails - It makes me wonder.

Thanks Annette for bringing this to ssnakess.com. I wouldn't be suprised if we don't have Rob or his buddies as members of the forum (hi Rob) already.

Something is going to need to be done to counteract this movement.

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Old 02-10-04, 02:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I do agree with the fact that Wild collecting can and probably is having a huge effect on some wild populations of certain species, to lump everything into one single cohessive group is just stupid to me. The arctile wasn't too bad, but the emails kinda cheesed me off as far as that goes(implying that all keepers are inept/cold hearted and that all captives are suffering both physically and emotionally(however you quantfy that). The problem of wild caughts(when it gets to the point of hurting wild populations, etc) should be dealt with, but that's all I had to agree with.

Some of these groups(ie PETA/HSUS - he realy lost me once he lumped his organization in with those guys) seem to really have misguided directions as far as aniamls cruelty goes. Like Marisa said, there is a much larger problem not only in this country, but virtually ALL countries as far as overpopulations of dogs/cats etc. that really should be addressed before attacking what is still really a very small niche market in reptiles. They seem to chase after every little issue, probably to give the illusion that they accomplish anything in order to attract members, when they don't seem to accomplish much at all.

Interesting anyways, thanks for the heads-up...
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Old 02-10-04, 02:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well one of the things that really bothers me is that they arent even looking at the skin and meat trade .......These are where the mass majority of the WC herps go ........The pet trade is such a small part of it .....Dont get me wrong ......I wouldnt have to much to say about them shutting down the WC pet trade ......But when they imply that we dont know what we are doing and have nothing to back it up is just unreal ......Where are the studies they have done on this ?????? Where is all the proof to make such claims against us ??????
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Old 02-10-04, 02:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think this is infuriating.. EVERY ANIMAL in the pet trade can end up with unknowledgeable owners.. this is the fault of the pet stores, they are also mainly the ones who bring in wild caught animals... it makes no sense why everyone should suffer for a few.
I do agree with most of the article.. but I think they are going about it the wrong way. what they are headed for is a MASSIVE underground reptile industry, where people will still buy CB CBB and sell trade them 'underground'. Personally, NO ONE is going to take my babies away from me, I don't care what the costs are.

They need to show as much proof as they are asking for, they need to give a little if they expect this to work, and so far it just seems to be akin to a closeminded incorporation going after the little guy with no back up.
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Old 02-10-04, 02:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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They have no proof. For one simple reason....there is no proof that the way most zoo's and reptile keepers keep their animals is wrong.

I'd like not only to see proof, but apparently they know plenty more about captive husbandry than we do! I wish they would share this husbandry information that would make us realize how "cruel" we are with the rest of us.

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Old 02-10-04, 02:59 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thats scary, and the scary part is, it's almost all true! I would hate to lose my right to keep these animals but I do agree that something has to be done to presearve wild reptiles and to help keepers learn to do so properly, I think a complete reptile ban is a little drastick, In my opinion they should be focusing more on the wild collection of the animals and maybe into some more education for vets, Herp societys and Organizations.....
Im anxious to see the outcome of the report..
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Old 02-10-04, 03:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If they want to concentrate on anything, IMO they should be working on stopping the import of WC specimens. maybe get a little stricter like they do with Poachers... I mean they are complaining about EC populations dwindling... and they don't WANT to focus on the skin trade and that kind of thing, so why not go after the enterprises/individuals that are supporting/carrying out the WC problem? This SHOULD be where the focus lies... because like someone mentioned, unless they tell me what I am doing wrong, and show proof that what the majority of us are doing wrong, and even then, (cause mistakes can be corrected) this is just a crock of bull caca.

man, I am so steamed about this... freaking people who know nothing about something having to get into everyones business, and not take care of the REAL problem. someone should send this Bozo the link to this site, and have them spend a day here to see how we as a community are helping the less knowledgeable to be good care givers. and maybe by doing that they can go after the people who just choose to not take the 'right' advice and prosecute them instead of generalising us all into one category....
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Old 02-10-04, 03:13 PM   #13 (permalink)
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We all need to write letters........And demand that they show us proof ....... But what I am wondering is........If the are just starting with Canada cuz we are so new compaired to the rest of the world in this and if they are .....Are they planning on hitting the states next if the succeed here.......
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Old 02-10-04, 03:17 PM   #14 (permalink)
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It seems to me that Rob's comments were simply argumentative. He states a supposed problem...gets a contrary response...and then says "ya well, it's still a problem" with no facts (or even anything smart to say) to back it up.

This is just a theory but maybe he just giving himself something to do so that he can justify his WSPA pay cheque.
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Old 02-10-04, 03:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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well I think someone should post the e-mail address (seeing as it would be on their website it should be allowed) so we can e-mail the same person. and I agree that we should all speak up, and make sure we are heard. this isn't something that we should take for granted as ' ah, no big deal, they say they are doing it but they won't...' why take the chance... so please, post the e-mail addy so we can jump on this too.. and please if you do write, please lets keep it professional... remember we need to be taken seriously..
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