Feds Likely To Face Legal Battle Over Burmese Python Ban

Categories: Animal Planet
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Most of us rejoiced earlier this year when Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced a new set of restrictions on the much loathed, much feared, much hyped Burmese python.  

But six months after the feds announced a ban on the importation and interstate sale of Burmese pythons and three other snake species, the reptile industry is starting to mount a resistance that could very well culminate in a costly lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This week the United States Association of Reptile Keepers said that it is taking up funds to prepare for a judicial joust over the right to breed and sell these beastly snakes to whomever is willing to pay top dollar. 

"There are a few legal avenues we are exploring first that may bring satisfaction without the need for a lawsuit," says Andrew Wyatt, president of the industry group. "The remedy of last resort is to file a federal lawsuit."

Under the current ban, reptile farmers are free to raise and sell Burmese pythons, so long as the snakes don't make their way over state lines. Wyatt says this is troublesome because reptiles are a multi-million-dollar industry, and breeders sell their snakes to zoos, research facilities and pet shops around the world.  

For example, if a breeder in North Carolina gets an order from a lab in France, it might not be possible to complete the sale because there's a good chance the snake would pass through a FedEx facility outside of North Carolina, say in Georgia for example. If that were to happen, the seller would then be in violation of federal law and could be hit with stiff fines and potential jail time. 

Florida already had a set of rules governing the snakes, and the reptile industry isn't pleased that the feds are pushing in on a problem that affects only a few counties in Florida. Down here, Burmese can't be acquired as pets, and only registered, licensed dealers, researchers and exhibitors are allowed to own the reptiles. 

Wyatt makes no attempt to conceal that USARK is an industry group putting its financial interests first.  

"We are an industry group trying to keep our businesses going," he says. "There's nothing wrong with farming livestock for profit. We produce high quality, captive-bred reptiles."

Burmese pythons have captured headlines in recent years for allegedly terrorizing the Everglades. One study suggested the snakes decimated mammal populations in the Everglades, but critics said the data were flawed and the study should have never been published.

It remains unclear exactly how many of the snakes remain in Florida; estimates range from a few thousand to more than 100,000. 

In the recent past, Scott Hardin of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it's not likely that Burmese pythons pose any significant threat, and that wild hogs are the most problematic invasive species in the Sunshine State. 

Wyatt alleges that "a small cabal of scientists has sensationalized the threat Burmese pythons pose to South Florida and exaggerated it to secure federal funding for research." He also expresses concern that a ban on shipping these snakes across state lines does absolutely nothing to address the remnant population of pythons in the Everglades. 

USARK asserts that Fish and Wildlife has "exceeded its Lacey Act authority in terms of the breadth of the restrictions" it placed on the four snake species. It's now taking up donations to challenge the law. 

Wyatt says the group plans to file a lawsuit by the end of the year if the issue is not resolved through other means.

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11 comments
jewelofbeguile
jewelofbeguile

Who is the idiot that wrote this article? Does he own a Burmese Python? Has he ever been in contact with a Burmese Python; - Or does he simply watch Animal Planet and jump on a band wagon of dolts that hate snakes? Go to your Google search bar, type in "Huge African Rock Python," third hit down is me on youtube. Does this really seem like a dangerous animal?-and they say this is ten times worse than the Burmese Python! Why aren't cats and dogs called an invasive species? 

Bill Boesenberg
Bill Boesenberg

The animals are not there because they were dumped. They are there because hurricane Andrew destroyed a storage shed housing pythons back in 1982. Florida has had 30 years to deal with this crisis and, like with their education system, they did nothing. Banning the transport of pythons will not stop nor did it cause the problems in Florida.--The problem with Florida is that it's full of Floridians!

Jimmyb313
Jimmyb313

Save a python, ban a congressman!

Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee

This sort of shyte passes as journalism now?  Please, do humanity a favor and get a real job as opposed to a copy pasta reblogging hack.

Paul
Paul

This is the ignorance of you small minded people. You have no idea what this hooby involves. What you are seeing is, is the result of Hurricane Andrew. Not 100%. Majority, I would say about 90% were not dumped. Some yes. Some of these pythons, burmese included, can cost $2500 to $50,000. You have yet to see any of those in the wild have you? No, all you see is a plain jane normal snake. That $150 snake. This is only a South Florida Issue. No where else. The ownership of a large snake is no different than you and your dog or cat. I have those as well. Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot own? I have a college level education. I work and pay my taxes. Own my own house. Not in some trailer park either. Normal, single family home in Maryland, on a 1 acre lot. Any dog over 65 pounds is fully capable of killing a person. Happens allllllllll the time. I guess your penis is just as small for owning an animal, that could kill a person too?

MagicLance
MagicLance

I can speak from personal experience the ban of Burmese pythons have caused a major hardship on me and my business. For over 30 years I have traveled the US performing my touring magical illusion show The Magic of Lance Gifford & Company the feature ending of my show has always been an illusion using my two burmese python snakes. Because of this newly passed ban this is the first time in over 30 years performing my show without my snakes Abra & Cadabra. And now this year when spectators who have seen me perform with my snakes for many years ask what happened to the snakes, I explain its because of the federal ban. Very sad the Government can just step in and take away my freedoms like they have done.

NamelessSpectator
NamelessSpectator

Even Florida's fish and wildlife department places feral pigs above this.  read about the subject before you make up information.  A DNA test ID'ed that the original release of pythons came from a holding facility destroyed during hurricane andrew decades ago.  The animals now have a breeding population in southern Florida and the state of Florida established it's own laws on the species.  A local problem doesn't require a nation wide solution.  And if breeding animals is a sketchy business where is your stance on dogs or cats whose feral populations have had nation wide impact on wildlife there are also cows, chickens, animal agriculture as a whole, pet stores.  Don't be such a short sighted fool you only proved you don't know what you are talking about.

hardkoreherper13x
hardkoreherper13x

i feel they are doing good there, having done my internship with Jacksonville zoo i got the chance to partake in a necropsy of a 8 foot specimen and in its stomach we found remains of a stray cat (the cat was identified by park personnel as a animal digging in trash and extremely feral) trust me ladies and gents, they aren't taking over the pan handle. We went out looking several times and only found that one at the zoo...

Regionreptiles
Regionreptiles

lol Do the research :) You will see you don't have any ground to stand on lol

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