Expanding Snake Ban Could Cause Economic Woe, Feed Python Hype, Reptile Group Says

Categories: Animal Planet
Burmese Python Small.jpg
​Earlier this year, our cowboy-hat-wearing secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, hosted a news conference in the Everglades to announce a federal ban on importing four species of snakes, including the much-loathed Burmese python. 

Now, a new proposal from Reps. Tom Rooney and Ted Deutch looks to expand the number of species banned from four to nine. Among the species targeted in the new proposal are the boa constrictor and the reticulated python. 

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill earlier this week, but not everyone is pleased about the potential of expanding the ban. 

"Even with the most convoluted sense of reasoning, there's no reason those animals should be added to the list," says Andrew Wyatt, CEO of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers. "We're talking about an economic impact well in excess of $100 million a year." 

The Association of Reptile Keepers, which Wyatt says has 40,000 members, supplies snakes to zoos, museums, pet shops, and research facilities. 

"Mr. Rooney wants to trump the Obama administration and own this issue in Florida," Wyatt says. "But it has not one ounce of conservation value to the Everglades."

When Salazar announced the ban in January, Rooney was quick to call it a "half-measure" that will not "do nearly enough to protect the Everglades." He also said that all nine species included in his ban "need to be eradicated." 

Wyatt has particular beef with using federal bans to address a problem that mostly affects just a few counties in the southern tip of Florida. 

"With all the hype, you'd think Burmese pythons are fixing to take over the southern third of the U.S.," Wyatt says. "What they're trying to do is put a federal Band-Aid on a very localized problem in South Florida."

In a recent news release, Rooney backs up his argument for the ban by citing a recent study suggesting that snakes, Burmese pythons in particular, have led to drastic declines in Everglades.

However, as we recently reported, that study has started to encounter opposition from scientists, including one expert who said the findings should have "never made it to the light of day."


 
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14 comments
kelly18
kelly18

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Aldebono
Aldebono

Florida already had it's own snake ban before this even took place. Just FYI

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

Its sad, but it will need to be done sooner or later.  Invasive species are not only a nuisance since they destroy ecosystems.  This can and does affect everything we do, including agriculture. This is not just a "Florida problem" as others have claimed, but is a world problem.   

Jimmy P Hancock
Jimmy P Hancock

Come on guys in the shape this country is in you want to ban snakes? Give me a break! We got illegal immigrants and drug cartels kidnapping and killing our citizens! Not limited to but including our CHILDREN! pull your heads out your butts and focus on what matters! This is Floridas problem and Florida should be the only ones who have any bans implemented upon them!

crimsonexotics
crimsonexotics

No they have a permit system in place. Big difference. Florida is one of the few states left that allow people to keep venomous reptiles with a permit. You can also keep the large pythons with a permit. Its just really hard to get those permits!

Scott
Scott

Pete, I work in the veterinary industry.  Did you know that feral cats exist in large numbers in many places in many states?  Did you know that feral cats kill many native animals?  Did you know that feral cats present a significant health risk to humans and other animals in the form of rabies?  Do you support banning cats?  If not, why? 

Scubasteve
Scubasteve

These snakes cant survive anywhere else in the country other than steamy, hot, disgusting Florida... So yes it is only a Florida problem.

Sarah Haynes
Sarah Haynes

Invasive species will forever be a part of the world. It's just how ecology works. The ecosystem adapts to support the new form of life, some things change, and life goes on.

However, that is not relevant to this situation.

While burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in southern florida, they are unable to survive anywhere outside of the very southernmost part of florida. Furthermore, all the ban does is prevent interstate transport and importing specimens from outside of the US. It does nothing about the snakes already in florida.

I agree that something needs to be done about the everglades. But the rest of the snakes on this list have nothing to do with the everglades and everything to do with a political power play.

Even if the ban was just limited to the burmese python, it would still be doing nothing to help the everglades issue. If anything it will exacerbate the issue as pet owners are forced to relinquish their pet snakes because it is illegal to bring them across state lines.

What is a pet owner to do but release their snake into the wild and hope it survives? The government has offered no recourse for burmese python owners who are forced to move. Of course, pet owners releasing these snakes will not be an issue anywhere but florida, since none of these species can survive anywhere else in the united states.

In other words, this ban does nothing BUT prevent pet owners from bringing their pet pythons with them when they move and prevent new pythons coming from outside the US. It does not do a thing to help the everglades issue. None of the species on the ban can survive outside of southern florida, so the laws and regulations should be limited to florida.

jb
jb

 True, invasive species are a world-wide problem.  But, these particular species are ONLY a threat in the 3 southern-most counties in Florida (most of them aren't even a threat there).  This is why a FEDERAL (ie, all 50 states) law is absolutely ridiculous.  It's a localized problem and using Federal resources to address it is a bit like using a sledgehammer, no - make that a wrecking ball, to kill a fly.

Kristin_bald
Kristin_bald

hear hear!!! i agree totally. finally someone who gets it.

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

 They should be spayed and neutered.  I agree, they are a horrible problem, some of the nastiest animals I had to deal with when I work in the veterinary industry.  I prefer to take on a feral dog over ANY feral cat.  When they bite, they always draw blood.I also think it should be more difficult for people to get cats since there is a large problem of people getting a kitten, then tossing them out the door when it grows up making things even worse.

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

 Actually they are also spreading in other states as well.  It is not just in Florida.

JP Wittstock
JP Wittstock

You're obviously completely uninformed. Go read some real scientific literature on the matter, not the rubbish fed to you by Hsus and Peta.

Jason6
Jason6

That is completely false.. Burms have NOT been able to survive outside of Southern Florida ;) . There have actually been 2 tests done with burms.. One in a pit in SC in winter..All the burms died.. The other was done in another part of Florida, all the snakes except 1 died. They simply can NOT survive anywhere but in southern part of Florida.. Please get facts straight and do research before making such bold claims ;)

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