USARK and its lawyers worked at a frantic pace to get a nationwide preliminary injunction (PI) for every single responsible reptile keeper in the continental United States since the recent USFWS Lacey Act listing of reticulated pythons and three species of anacondas.
We submitted multiple legal briefs/memoranda to, and had several hearings before, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. Hundreds of hours from numerous individuals have been invested. I am not sure when Phil Goss sleeps!
A PI is an extraordinary legal remedy that is only granted upon satisfying extremely stringent legal requirements. For example, USARK had to establish that its members would suffer irreparable harm without a PI and it is likely to prevail on the merits (when the court eventually hears the main case).
The law also requires the judge to grant a PI as narrow as possible. Because there is no full blown adversary process at the PI stage, the judge essentially assumes that the facts provided by USFWS are accurate for purposes of ruling on the PI. All of these strict legal principles and requirements are why you rarely see a PI granted, especially one on a nationwide basis enjoining enforcement of an environmental law.
Preliminary Injunction Granted
Against all odds, the judge ordered a nationwide PI “with respect to transportation by any Plaintiff or USARK member of the reticulated python and/or green anaconda” (1) out of any of the 49 continental United States, and (2) into all of those states except for Florida and Texas.
Questions and Limitations on Preliminary Injunction
When will the PI be effective?
June 2, 2015, unless USFWS appeals to the Federal Circuit Court and a stay of the PI is granted by the Federal Circuit Court before June 2, 2015. USFWS stated it would take them about 75 days to make a decision on such an appeal.
Does the PI allow every reptile keeper in the continental United States to ship/transport green anacondas and reticulated pythons across state lines?
At the last minute, USFWS made numerous arguments to try to restrict the scope of shipments. In response to USFWS arguments and to protect the PI ruling if appealed, the judge ruled that the PI allows transportation/shipment by anyone who was a member of USARK as of April 8, 2015.
A nationwide injunction for every reptile keeper, including shipments into Florida and Texas, will be issued if/when the judge rules favorably on the interstate transportation issue as part of the main case. Since the judge has already ruled during the PI stage of the case that USARK is likely to prevail on the interstate transportation issue on the merits, it is likely that such an injunction will be granted.
How do I determine my status/qualification for USARK membership?
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