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Posted by Jason/Danni on February 23, 2002 at 22:19:07:
This is a time for all herpers to ban together! Even though not everyone believes that alligators should be legal in private ownership, we need to ban together to stop legislation because it could be a stepping stone to ban all reptiles. This is a small part in the big picture of reptile ownership, it could start with gators and work it’s way down to corn snakes. And I do not believe that anyone wants that to happen, so we must do something to ensure our right to keep our beloved reptiles. This is a perfect opportunity to help all the responsible reptile keepers, who year after year without incident provide excellent husbandry and truly love their reptiles from corn snakes to gators. We all know what type of reputation our snakes and lizards have in the general non-herper population, most think they are man-eaters with intent to kill, and we all know that is not the truth and unless we ban together to stop this type of legislation we will never have the chance to prove them wrong.
Although this case is in Illinois, it could effect everyone, no matter which state you live in if it becomes case law. If by chance it did become case law and your animals were taken away, they could use this case against you or if we win this, use it in your favor. Not to mention, if they did take your animals away the possibility of them not surviving because of improper care is great. Jason’s gator died because the state gave it to an inexperienced person whom kept in a tub that was too small on a concrete floor for the duration of court proceedings. Do you really want this to happen again?? Regardless of what state you live in, it could be your boa, python, gator, or colubrid. Helping out with this case could someday help stop future restrictions on reptiles in your state.
If you could please read the following and after doing so write a letter and/or send any type of documentation you may have or know of (newspaper articles, etc.) to the address given stating that American alligators are no longer on the endangered species list. Also if people who do not have any type of documentation could send just a letter stating that they know they are not on the endangered species list and also letters against the regulations of reptiles.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope that you will help out on this matter. It is an issue that is important to all of us and will continue to appear more often if we do not fight back. It is our right to keep our reptiles just as it’s people’s rights to keep horses, dogs, cats, etc. etc. With all of this said happy herping and send a letter, it will only take a short amount of time and a stamp! Thanks again, your help is greatly greatly appreciated.
As you may or may not know, I am the process of clarifying Illinois law in regards to American Alligators. I am posting today to ask for your assistance in this matter.
In February 2001, Lincoln Police Department officers whom were backing an opponent in an election I was involved with as a candidate, entered my office, and seized my two
alligators, Damien who was 22”, and Chewy, who was 28”.
I was cited with a violation of the IL dangerous animals act, and was subjected to public ridicule over this matter.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I proved to Logan County State’s Attorney, Tim Huyett, that I was not in violation of the Dangerous Animals act for several reasons, including previous case law that proved even a four foot alligator is not defined as dangerous under that act.
Mr. Huyett then threatened to prosecute me under the IL Endangered Species Protection Act, because the American alligator is listed by USFWS as “Similarity of appearance to a threatened taxon”. The American alligator has not been listed as threatened or endangered since 1986. He allowed me the opportunity to obtain a permit from the IL dept. of Natural Resources, and officials then returned the one remaining alligator, Chewy, to my care. Damien passed away two weeks before the situation was “resolved”.
In May 2001, I filed a 5 count, $110,000 suit, and named Lincoln Police Department, The City of Lincoln, each officer involved, and the police chief as defendants.
On February 15, 2002, Logan County Circuit Judge David Coogan ruled on the case as follows: “Court finds that an American Alligator is a threatened or endangered species and does require a permit from IL Dept. of Natural Resources. The court further finds that Counts I-V of Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a cause of action and are hereby dismissed.”
I have a serious problem with the finding of this court. I will attempt to explain fully why I believe the court ruled wrongly on this case.
1. American Alligators are listed as “Similarity of appearance to a threatened taxon”. No where in Illinois law, does it give mention to this classification.
2. US Fish & Wildlife Service also states that this status only applies to the alligator’s range, which consists of the states of AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, & TX.. Illinois is not, nor has it ever been in the alligator’s native range.
3. Federal law 50CFR17.42 clearly states in brief that “Any person may take an alligator in the wild, or one which was born in captivity or lawfully placed in captivity, and may deliver,
receive, carry, transport, ship, sell, offer to sell, purchase, or offer to purchase such alligator in interstate or foreign commerce”
4. The IL Endangered Species Protection Act (520 ILCS 10/) defines both Endangered and Threatened species, and states that the animal must be classified as Endangered or Threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Protection Act of 1973. It also defines Animal Product as “the fur, hide, skin, teeth, feathers, tusks, claws, eggs, nests, or the body or any portion thereof whether in a green or raw state or as a product manufactured or refined from an animal
protected under this Act”
My argument is as follows: How can restaurants sell alligator meat, and how can
consumers purchase alligator meat in this state without permit, under the interpretation of this court? Is alligator meat not an animal product ? What about mounted skulls, claws, and hides of alligators?
The American alligator has not been covered by the Illinois law for 16 years. Any
reasonable person can clearly see this.
Upon a successful finding by the Appellate Court of Illinois, I will then have a cause of action against the politically motivated officers, and intend to use all legal powers to make them liable for their actions.
I ask you to please lend your assistance to a fellow herper to help prove his case, and
settle this dispute once and for all. This case will also help all herpers in Illinois who choose to keep alligators legally and professionally, and could even become a case law for other states to refer to.
I ask you to submit letters in support of my cause, and attach any supporting documents that you can. Please mail these letters of support to: Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, Appellate Court Building, 201 West Monroe, PO Box 19206, Springfield, IL, 62794-9206. Please reference Docket Number 4-02-0149.
If you could also send me a copy, it would be greatly appreciated as well. My address is Jason Harlow, PO Box 264, Lincoln, IL, 62656.
Thank you all in advance for your assistance !