Obama Administration/FWS Issue Final Rule on Ferocious Snakes

Photo by cbr_case. Some rights reserved.

For decades, negligent Florida pet owners have been letting their domestic reptiles slip through screen doors and out into the warm, wet embrace of the Florida Everglades. Large snakes like the Burmese python and the yellow anaconda, often inexpensive to buy at pet stores, have in the last two decades become an enormous threat to the environment in and surrounding the Everglades. Thus these snakes, most of them native to Southeast Asia, are at the top of the list of invasive species threatening the already precarious balance of life in the Everglades (which have shrunk to less than half of their original size already due to residential/commercial development and have been polluted by runoff from nearby agricultural operations). The first python was discovered in the Everglades in 1979, but the spike in the python population didn’t occur until around 1995. And then the population exploded.

In what some are seeing as a too little, too late effort, the Obama administration (via Ken Salazar and the Fish and Wildlife Service) announced on Tuesday a ban that would outlaw the transportation of four giant snake species (along with gametes, eggs, or hybrids) categorized as “injurious” by the Lacey Act of 1900  outside of Florida state lines. It’s a good thing, too, as apparently these snakes (Burmese pythons in particular) can survive and travel in salt water and are capable of eating whole deers. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), who has been pushing for a ban on sale and importation of snakes for three years, summed up the issue nicely:

“These snakes sure-as-heck don’t belong in the Everglades… And they certainly don’t belong in people’s backyards.”

The Humane Society, meanwhile, has already come out commending the administration’s action but voicing their disapproval in the steady weakening of the ban that occurred prior to being passed (originally nine species would have been prohibited and restrictions on pet ownership/liability increased). Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, issued a statement (following Salazar’s annoucement) saying:

“This rule was swallowed up in the federal bureaucracy for 22 months, and put through a political meat grinder, leaving us with a severely diminished final action.”

Let’s just hope it’s not too late; after all, we’ve all seen Anaconda.

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