Writing to Our Representatives on Earth DayOr…The Dragon thinks we should protect our pets and civil liberties from HR669 this Earth Day(I’ll just warn you now—this one’s a long one and it'll rile you up.)
At an Earth Day Festival in Kansas City several years ago, a vendor pointed at my t-shirt and said, “Turtle Island? Where’s that?” I responded, “You’re standing on it. Our earth belongs to the turtles.” He could dig that. We chatted a while and, for some reason, he asked what year I was born. I’ll share because I don’t think it’s a big deal. 1970. He was elated and told me that was the year of the first Earth Day.
I felt honored.
I’m not the most
devoted environmentalist you’ll find. I use too much hair spray now that my hair is growing back in. (I’m not saying that a hole is opening in the ozone layer directly above Southwest Florida because of me; but, trust me, my hair spray consumption has increased now that I actually have hair to tame into place.) And I have those days when I take long showers (we fantasy authors have stress, you know) even though I know I should conserve water. But I always always always
turn the water off while I brush my teeth. I’m not totally irresponsible. :)
The one environmentalist bent I go nuts over is the sea turtles. I have this insane love for the sea turtles. It started because my family adopted a fresh-water turtle when I was a teenager in Missouri. My love of the shelled reptiles started then and I’ve been interested in all manner of turtle and habitat conservation since.
A couple summers ago, during nesting patrol for Turtle Time
, I got to rescue a baby sea turtle who had strayed far away from his nest—and the gulf waters—due to light disorientation. I have the sea turtle conservation license plate. Thursday of last week, I took a personal day from work so I could drive up to Port Charlotte to attend this year’s sea turtle seminar in preparation for nesting patrols. I only buy ice cream from Turtle Mountain
(look for the Purely Decadent brand in the organic/healthy section of the dairy case) because they provide funds to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project
(STRP). When my first fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods
was released, I ordered a ton of canvas bags (as opposed to evil plastic bags) with the book cover for promotional efforts because I wanted to hand out an environmentally responsible item that wouldn’t end up in our ocean/gulf waters where sea turtles would mistake it for a yummy jelly fish meal. I even have a baby sea turtle flitting away to freedom, juxtaposed against the female lead in Enara’s Choice
in the chapbook What Choices We Made.
I just adore these precious creatures and feel overwhelmed by the task before the sea turtle conservationists fighting to protect them.
But today is Earth Day, and there are threatened and endangered species all over the globe who deserve remembrance. Not only are sea turtles finding fewer nesting beaches and increased international fishery trawlers, but polar bears are crashing through thinning ice, 11-day-old harp seals are being clubbed to death or skinned alive so someone can have a fancy hat, fish are bumping into destructive species that were introduced by well-meaning but short-sighted wildlife management officials, and the list goes on.
Now, I would like you to notice that I mentioned “destructive species introduction” in that last paragraph. There are entities in the U.S. government that have tried controlling wild populations by introducing nonnative species to U.S. ecosystems. These experiments have not always gone well. People neglecting to check cargo on island-bound planes also allowed nonnative species to sneak into unsuspecting ecosystems. (Do a google search for “invasive species” and Guam. Holy cow.) In answer to this man-made problem, a representative has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives—H.R. 669
—that is, on the surface, meant to keep us from compounding the problems that started by accident.
H.R. 669, The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, does a bit more. It is designed, among other things, to allow a government entity to make a list of what pets U.S. citizens are not allowed to keep. I think the premise is designed to prevent the few irresponsible pet owners from releasing nonnative animals into sensitive U.S. ecosystems. I’m not sure if this would stem the tide of Burmese Pythons encroaching on alligator feeding grounds in the Everglades or of feral cats eating pretty songbirds all over the country or not. Two things I am
sure about with this bill: It stomps on our civil liberties and it results in animal deaths.
Under H.R. 669, if an animal is not native to the United States, it won’t be allowed (unless it's a cow or some type of domesticated livestock used in farming). If you already own a nonnative animal, such as a parrot, a lizard, a gerbil, a guinea pig, a hamster, etc., you may keep the animal, but you will not be allowed to breed it with another animal and you will not be allowed to carry it across state lines. My lovely Petri is a sun conure, and, although his parents and grandparents were bred here in the United States, his species is originally from South America, thus he is considered nonnative. Under H.R. 669, a person will not be allowed to transfer her pet's ownership to another individual. So if my employer (headquartered in another state) were to order me to move to that state as a condition of my continued employment, I could not give (or sell) my companion parrot before moving. In the event of a career change or family emergency, a person will not be "allowed" to give away their bird or tortoise or child's hamster to a family friend before leaving it behind in an interstate move.
The pet has to be “destroyed”. “Destroyed” is a polite word for “murdered”.
If H.R. 669 is passed, the U.S. government will dictate which animals U.S. citizens are allowed to keep as pets/family members, and will dictate when you have to kill them. (Unless you already have all the pets you want and are living in the state where you intend to retire and die. And I guess your pet dies with you if you can’t transfer ownership to anyone upon your death…)
What a sad thing to contemplate on Earth Day. Our representatives in the House of Representatives are supposed to start discussing this bill tomorrow, the 23rd. I’ve already sent letters to my representatives stating that I’d like them to speak against this bill. While I like the idea of preventing nonnative species from establishing populations in the wild in the United States, I think the way to control that is not
by destroying the pet industry and killing people’s pets, but by finding better ways to keep the small percentage of irresponsible owners from releasing their pets and by keeping wildlife officials from doing any more “creative species control”.
I think Earth Day should be a day where we come up with good, positive, creative ways to protect and conserve life; not to kill the animals that responsible owners love and care for. I think Earth Day is a great day to tell a representative that H.R. 669 is a bad idea. If you would like to contact your representatives, but aren’t sure of their names or e-mail addresses, visit this site
for quick-and-easy access. Remember, HR669 is The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act and it will put limits on pet ownership, will gut the pet industry, but, most importantly, will endanger animals’ lives.“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
Tags: Earth Day, sea turtles, House of Representatives, nonnative species, H.R. 669, HR669, Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, species control, pet industry, companion parrot
Labels: Earth Day, HR669, pet industry, sea turtles