Reptile Legislation and Television Drama with Ryan McVeigh
Ryan McVeigh for those unaware of the name is the President of Madison Area Herpetological Society as well as being a Marketing Brand Manager at one of the hottest reptile brands available today Zilla. He is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to reptile legislation and has been invited to the speak in front of state legislators regarding herpetoculture! In this interview Ryan gives John and our Tribe the lowdown on reptile legislation, herpetological society secret to success, and of course he comments on recent television drama escapades of a well-known but oft not well liked ‘reptile personality’. Here we go…
RA: What’s new with legislation of reptiles?
Just a broad statement is fine.
Every year there is legislation. Federal legislation with reptiles right now is centered around Lacey act additions, which includes large constrictors, and more recently salamander species. State wise, many states have exotic animal laws, but there are a few, such as WI, that don’t and are the target for animal rights groups to push anti-exotic or dangerous wild animal legislation. Lastly there is the county and local level. This is what keeps me and most people the most busy as anti-reptile ordinances are created. Overall, it’s important to be aware of the laws locally and how your state works in regards to precedence of the laws.
RA:Where would our readers look for such legislation that may be pending and already passed?
Many times you can look at state and local municipalities’ websites and get an email sent to you when certain words pop up in legislation. Exotic, reptile, dangerous, and wild are some keywords you can set up to catch these ordinances. USARK and local Herpetological Societies are usually involved in them and are a great source to be closely watching and connected with if you want to get involved. One thing I can’t stress enough is to be involved in your STATE, not just if something happens in your area. Stand up for people in other areas that need help, as you may need their help one day too.
RA:Speaking of Herp Societies we recently shared an article on one in particular which rose and died rather quickly. What’s the ‘secret sauce’ of MAHS? Seriously, you folks are HUGE and making a large amount of positive impact. What are some key tips for someone interested in starting a new herp club?
MAHS is successful for one reason, hard work. We have a team of dedicated people who work their butts off for no pay, no payoff, nothing, just the passion of helping people love the animals we love. That’s it. We work hard to be out in the community every weekend and often during the week. We take vacation days from work when we need to and we always stay positive.
People don’t realize the work that goes into it, and you burn out easily doing shows weekend after weekend. A lot of times that’s where people fall short. They burn out and lose the passion and fun. I always work with my board and volunteers to make sure they are having fun and feel appreciated for their hard work. We have helped multiple clubs start.
The key is to really get out there and get people locally excited about it. Stress the importance of working together in real life, not on social media. In person we can make incredible strides for our hobby, online all we end up doing is talking and fighting, and never doing anything valuable. The biggest thing is to make it fun, and make it about education and the passion we have.
RA:With all the negativity in the media about reptiles what’s been the latest success of MAHS that you would want the public to share?
We’ve had a few successes locally with laws. One that was unexpected was in Appleton WI last month. Through working with a local Alderman and some reptile keepers in that area, we were able to get them to change their constrictor length limit from 3′ to 6′. That may not seem like much, but how often do you see a push to RELAX a law, and not make it worse. It was a group effort and took some early mornings and long drives, but now people don’t have to worry about losing their ball pythons and corn snakes.
Television Drama and Reptiles
RA:What’s MAHS’s take on recent television shows regarding reptiles?
I am amazed at people’s reaction to shows on TV and especially recent ones that have known reptile hobbyists/breeders, etc. I want people to take a moment before jumping on the hate bandwagon and think about something. We all LOVED Steve Irwin! He is the reason, SO MANY of us are into reptiles. Take a moment and go back and watch some of his episodes, and tell me that in today’s world you would support that type of free handling and total disregard for safety protocols. I watched him kiss a taipan on the head! He dove into croc infested water to wrestle one.
If ANYONE did that today, we would be outside their house with pitchforks ready to crucify them. He had a passion for animals that won’t easily be replaced, that’s for sure, but he wasn’t perfect either. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get people to watch educational type animal shows without some catch to it. What I do see though is people putting their neck out to try to make something positive out of it. We all know the channels will destroy whatever they shot, but at least they are trying.
Better to be Brian B on there, than another show with the toothless turtle idiot. If all of the keepers and people in our world say no to those shows, they won’t go away, they will just keep going until they find someone, and trust me when I say it won’t be someone we want or support. I wish we could go back to educational and entertaining animal shows, and I know we all do, but we need to work on unlocking the balance that will work in today’s dumbed down society that looks for drama in everything. For now, we may have to sit through some frustrating things, but as long as some of it is educational, it’s the best we can hope for. Honestly, when it comes down to it, if more people worked hard like MAHS and it’s volunteers to be out locally educating, the TV shows would have MUCH less of an impact.
With that said we want to hear from you too so let’s hear your thoughts but let’s keep it civil. Drop by the Reptile Apartment FanPage and share your thoughts.