Protect Environment from Invasive Species by Regulating Exotic Animal Ownership

Target: Members of Congress

Goal: Mandate a waiting period and education for the purchase of exotic pets.

Many people think that exotic animals would make the perfect addition to their home until they realize too late that these animals are often destructive, uncooperative, and dangerous. The Burmese Ball python is a perfect example of this. Thousands of people purchase pythons every year only to later discover that the animal grows up to 20 feet in length and can consume dogs, cats, and even small children. These animals are just doing what comes naturally to them, but unfortunately some pet owners lack education about the species that they purchased.  Thousands of exotic animals get released into the wild each year by owners who are unable or unwilling to keep these pets, resulting in catastrophic damage to natural ecosystems.

Educating prospective exotic pet owners about the responsibility and commitment of owning one an exotic animal would help to deter impulse purchases of constrictor snakes, large lizards, wild cat and dog species, and other predatory animals. Predators in particular are especially likely to destroy ecosystems because they consume so many of the natural herbivore population. For example, an estimated 150,000 Burmese Ball pythons are currently breeding in the Florida Everglades, which has resulted in significant decreases in native rabbit, bird, and alligator populations. These pythons are released or escaped pets that have flourished in the Everglades and began breeding at incredible rates.

Many states, including Florida, now require microchips and licenses for exotic pets. This measure has been somewhat successful, but needs to be expanded to a national scale. Also, education and waiting periods would be a critical addition to these programs, since they would deter the impulse purchase of exotic pets and help ensure that prospective exotic pet owners would fully understand the risks, realities, and commitment of purchasing an exotic animal. Exotic animals are wonderful creatures, but often are not very good pets. Please ask Congress to protect our natural environment by mandating education and waiting periods for exotic pet ownership.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Members of Congress,

Invasive species are a growing concern for native American wildlife and ecosystems. In particular, the release and escape of exotic pets is devastating many areas of the United States, including the Florida Everglades. Too many citizens believe that owning an exotic pet is right for them, only to later discover that these animals are often uncooperative and dangerous. These animals are then released or escape into the wild and decimate natural populations. We are asking you to encourage legislation geared at mandating waiting periods and compulsory education for prospective exotic pet owners to prevent future damage to our environment.

The Burmese Ball python is devastating the Florida Everglades. An estimated 150,000 pythons currently live and breed in this area, and all are released or escaped pets and their offspring. This python population is competing with natural species, such as the American Alligator, while endangering many birds and small mammals. This phenomenon is not isolated to Florida, but occurs all over the nation as various birds, mammals, and reptiles are released or escape from owners and then end up flourishing in the American landscape. Many protected species are now at greater risk of extinction because of these invasive species and it is time to prevent any future outbreaks.

Education is our most vital tool in the prevention of the exotic pet ownership. Many people do not realize the commitment, reality, and danger of owning an exotic animal. Mandating education for licensure of exotic animal ownership or sales would help to prevent irresponsible ownership of these wild animals by ensuring that prospective owners are fully informed about the lifespan, size, and potential dangers of purchasing an exotic pet. Further, requiring a waiting period would deter the impulse purchase of these animals, making it less likely that they would later be released into the wild. Please help protect our natural ecosystems by mandating education and waiting periods for prospective exotic pet owners.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Python swallowing an alligator via activistangler.com

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