The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

It should be legal to take large snakes across state lines

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 812 times Debate No: 72182
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




The Lacey's Act that makes it a felony for people to bring certain large snakes over state lines. It's unfair to good owners and bad science was used in the decision.


I accept the debate! Please begin :)
Debate Round No. 1


The Lacey's Act makes any animal listed under it as injurious and makes a felony to take snakes over state lines. The purpose of the adding large snakes to it is to prevent non native populations from starting like in Southern Florida, bad science was used to make the rulings, and made these snakes sound killers.
Now the adding of the reticulated python (the reason the boas were spared this time was a divide and conquer strategy) which has not been a problem but could be in the future is like putting someone in jail because they might commit a crime.
What this act also does is make it so that owners of snakes listed under Lacey's Act can keep and even breed their animals, but what if they live on state lines and need to get it to a vet but have to travel just 10 miles across state borders, well if they do they become a felon.
What someone has to transfer out of state and they can't find someone to take the animal in, that means they either have to kill it or release it into the wild thus creating the problems the Lacey's Act is meant to prevent, Lacey's Act just forces animal owners to chose between the well being of their animals and obeying the law.


I would like to start by thanking Pro for his round.


The resolution is: It should be legal to take large snakes across state lines.

As Con, I will be arguing that it should not be legal to take large snakes across state lines. Additionally, since Pro is attempting to challenge the status quo, the majority of the burden rests on him.


I. The Necessity and Justification of The Lacey Act.

The current law against taking large snakes across state lines is known as The Lacey Act:

"Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of U.S. or Indian law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law." [1]

On March 23, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services had a ban enacted under this law which covered the importation and interstate transportation of four large snakes:

The Burmese python, (Python molurus bivittatus) [2]

The northern (
Python sebae) and southern African rock pythons, (Python natalensis) [2]

and the
yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) [2]

The rule will specifically prohibit the interstate transport and importation live snakes, their viable reproductive assets such as sperm and eggs, or any hybrids of the listed snakes. The rule does not restrict the sales of these snakes within a state as long as buyers don't try to transport the snakes across state lines. [2]

So why were these snakes added to the "banned list" under the Lacey Act?

The answer is simple- They are a threat to the natural surroundings, including humans, protected habitats, and other endangered species.

In an NPR interview with the head of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Dan Ashe, when asked why the four species were added to the banned list gave the following response:

"DAN ASHE: We've seen the Burmese python threatening 41 federal and state-listed threatened and endangered species. In Florida, we have seen the virtual eradication of small mammals." [3]

When a non-native species of snake like the Burmese Python moves into an environment like the Everglades in South Florida, it's a recipe for disaster. With essentially no predators to threaten them, they can go about their business hunting and destroying the remaining species around them in this new home as the Apex Predator.

It's this same scenario that presents itself for the other species listed as well. Each of them pose a significant threat to their surrounding environments, such as some pythons being found with an entire deer inside it:

If that snake can swallow a deer, it can easily swallow a child, pet, or any sort of protected and endangered species that might come across its path. These aren't just horror stories, this is the reality, and as a resident of South Florida myself, the problem has become so great that we've already experienced between an 85% to 100% reduction in our mid-sized mammals like raccoons, foxes, bobcats, and opossums. [4]

Those are just mid-sized mammals though. Can you imagine the larger things these snakes can eat once they grow to full size? It's hard to really imagine, unless of course you see the size of some of the larger ones that have been found lately such as the one below:

What should we expect to come from these large snakes if we don't have any kind of control over them? One thing we have to keep in mind is that us Floridians are actually trying to stop this issue from spreading north. Most people believe that these snakes can't survive in the North since they flourish so well in the Everglades, but what we must keep in mind is that some of these snakes originate from lands where their native range included the foothills of the Himalayas. [5] We know these snakes can survive cold snaps which south Florida, contrary to popular belief, does experience once or twice a year where the temperature will drop into the low 40's. With this taken into consideration, it's clear that these snakes could easily survive up north, and will eventually be making there way up there once the Everglades is either dried up of food from their constant expansion, or too small for the expanding species to live comfortably. Either way, it will happen sooner rather than later, and the current bans on the import and interstate transportation of such snakes serves to stop such a thing from happening.

It's also not that much of a devastating impact on current owners, because if state law permits, most owners of these species would be allowed to keep their existing animals, and would only be prohibited from moving them across state lines. Businesses would be allowed to export the species within their state from designated ports with a permit from the Fish & Wildlife Service. [2]

For these reasons, I believe The Lacey Act is here to protect the majority from both harming endangered species and from being harmed by predator species. The addition of these four snakes, among the other countless additions throughout the years, is nothing more than our effort at protecting our immediate selves and environments from harmful species. We can see both the immediate damage and the potential damage that these snakes can and have caused. To reverse the actions taken would only serve to harm those who are at risk, both now and in the future.


I. Bad Science

Pro claims that "bad science" was used when determining what snakes were to be added to the banned list. However, I see no proof whatsoever to back up that claim. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has been around since 1871 [6]. Throughout the time of its existence and activities, it has largely served as a beneficial entity to the U.S. Government and is one that has instigated hundreds of projects and acts which have saved countless species of animals. To call into question the methods of this institution most certainly requires some form of valid evidence against it. Pro has offered none thus far.

II. "If they travel across state lines to see a vet they become a felon."

My opponent presents a scenario where if a snake owner of one of the banned species needs to see a vet who happens to be on the other side of the state lines he becomes a felon. This isn't wholly accurate though. The FWS (Fish & Wildlife Services) actually does offer special permits for interstate travel in some cases. [7] Regardless, it's not as if the snake owner can't find a vet in his own state. To assume otherwise is just ridiculous. There is no good reason why this should serve to strengthen Pro's side as ultimately it's not something that is really an issue, and is at the very least, an issue that can be easily avoided by simply taking your snake to a vet within your own state.

III. "...transfer out of state and they can't find someone to take the animal in"

My opponent presents a final argument posing a scenario where the person has to move out of state and can't find someone to take it in. This is, again, Pro working under the faulty assumption that there are no ways to get around it. As I showed in my previous rebuttal, there are certainly situations where an owner can acquire a special permit to travel. I see no reason why a responsible owner wouldn't be able to take the necessary steps and acquire such a permit. Furthermore, there are countless animal reserves and private collectors who would certainly be able to take the snake in, if it was a worst-case scenario. The option of having to kill it or release it isn't the only choices the snake owner would have. Thus, this argument falls flat as there are several methods to overcome such a scenario.

In closing,

I have presented an argument which shows both the necessity and justification of the current legal status of these snakes in regards to import and interstate travel bans. Furthermore, I've presented three rebuttals which cover each argument/scenario presented by Pro.

I now return the floor to Pro.

Thank you.


Debate Round No. 2


Well if getting the permit were that easy than why would USARK (United States Association of Reptile Keepers) file a lawsuit over the listings, because the government is going to make it nearly impossible for private owners to get the permits. The USARK wouldn't sue them over nothing.
The bad science I'm referring to is science they would've gotten on Discovery Channel, and other media sites. Discovery Channel lost it's credibility with show's such as Eat Alive, and the media can't be trusted, ever noticed the reason people think snakes are killers is because it's things like snake swallows deer whole make headlines, ever notice how no one ever show's how domestic these animals really can be, nope cause that wouldn't get ratings.
This video is to a man who wish's to educate people instead of make money through lies, I'd trust his opinion over the opinion of 100 experts you'd see on Animal Planet.


It seems my opponent has entirely dropped my main argument showing the necessity and justification for the Lacey Act. Thus, I extend that argument as it currently remains standing unchallenged. I would also like to point out that in Pro's failure to rebut my main argument, he has ultimately failed to negate my key challenge which should result in a loss since Pro needs to overcome every challenge in a debate that aims to change the status quo.

I will now present rebuttals for the selective arguments Pro chose to present in his final round.

I. USARK lawsuit

Pro contends that if it was easy to obtain a permit - that USARK wouldn't be suing the government. However, Pro provides no evidence showing that obtaining permits is the reason why USARK is suing the government. For all we know, they could be suing them out of spite or frustration. Perhaps they are simply suing to stir up further controversy or to bring more media exposure to their cause. There could be any number of reasons and without clarity and evidence from Pro there is just no grounds upon which to justify such a claim.

Furthermore, the case itself has been getting pushed further and further back, including the fact that three different judges have now been assigned to the case only to end up transferring it to another judge. [1] Without any forward motion in such a trial, there is no conclusive evidence saying who is right and who is wrong. In other words, until the case is settled, there is no reason to believe that USARK is the one in the right here. For all we know the case could be tossed out tomorrow due to USARK having no real case. Therefore, arguing that the law is wrong because it's being challenged does not mean that it's actually wrong. We won't know such things until the court passes judgement, and until then, this argument fails to carry any weight in affirming Pro's position. It's literally a moot point until the case is settled.

II. Bad Science

Oddly enough, while researching the USARK case I came across a lot of articles who also use the term "bad science"... I'm almost tempted to compare Pro's first round to some of these articles to see if he just plagiarized it from another source, but I won't. Ultimately, pro argues that the "bad science" is information gathered from The Discovery Channel and other media sources. The problem here is Pro's faulty assumption that a government agency that's been around since the 1800's would actually rely on television shows to base their judgements on. It's one of the most absurd assumptions I've ever seen here on DDO.

First off, Pro gives no evidence showing that they based their judgements off of television shows. That's key because without such evidence Pro's entire argument falls flat. Secondly, it's already known that they've sent their own people into the environments to record and send back the data they gathered first-hand. This is evident by the fact that they actually have their regional headquarters located in the Everglades itself [2] which is operated by their Florida branch.

Ultimately, it's evident that Pro's claims about the basis of their judgements is wildly inaccurate. I've now given evidence showing the fact that the FWS not only has a regional headquarters located in southern Florida, but also that they rely on their own people and data, rather than Pro's assumption that they rely on the discovery channel, which is ludicrous.

III. YouTube video

Now it seems that Pro is relying on someone else to make his arguments for him. Regardless, he presents this video with the intent of showing that there are some sources more trustworthy than animal planet. I couldn't agree more, and that's exactly why the FWS doesn't rely on such media outlets, and rather rely on their own experts in the field.

In closing,

I have now presented rebuttals which serve to defeat each point raised by Pro in his final round. My own argument remains standing unchallenged.

Due to my opponent failing to provide any evidence to support his claims, as well as his failure to negate my own argument as well as rebuttals, I urge a vote for Con.

Thank you.


Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by FreedomJosh 1 year ago
Sorry I missed the last post, the past few days were hectic for me.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 1 year ago
Thanks. There's still a lot for me to learn when it comes to debating, I'll def try my hand at some of the better debaters here once I acquire the tools to do so.
Posted by Genghis_Khan 1 year ago
damn, BoT

you really put a lot of effort into your noob-snipes lol

you would probably do really well if you tried debating good debaters ;P
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by That1User 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's central argument that the Lacey Act is justifable because it prevents harm for endageneered species and humans remains unchallegned. Con also rebutts pro's case effectively. Thus, the winner is con.