Python Import Ban Announced, But Boa Constrictors Still Allowed

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson at July 2009 congressional hearing seeking ban on pythons
TAMPA (2012-1-17) -

More than 1 million large constrictor snakes were imported into the United States between 1977 and 2007 according to a federal report. Now, federal officials want to ban four of those constrictor species from import and trade across state lines.

The rule banning Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas, Northern and Southern African rock pythons has been almost two years in the writing and review process. A 2009 U.S. Geological Survey found the four species are at “high risk” for establishing populations and spreading - further endangering Florida’s ecosystems and native species.

Pythons can grow up to 26 feet long and 200 pounds. They’ve eaten alligators and deer in the Everglades and now threaten endangered wood storks on Key Largo.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the rule banning the four species Tuesday at news conference in the Everglades.

“The Burmese python has already gained a foothold in the Florida Everglades, and we must do all we can to battle its spread and to prevent further human contributions of invasive snakes that cause economic and environmental damage,” Salazar said in a news release.

But the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, said it was too little and too late.

“It’s finally come out and we’re glad that it’s come out, but we’re very disappointed that it does not include all nine species because the five species omitted from this rule represent 70 percent of the trade in these large constricting species,” Pacelle said.

Boa constrictors and reticulated pythons are among the species not included in the ban. Pacelle fears that the ban won’t stop the threat to the Everglades because reptile dealers can just switch to the constrictor species not banned and continue to import.

Most people who legally own the four banned species will not be affected. However, once the ban goes into effect in about 60 days, the snake owners will not be allowed to take, sell or send their snakes across state lines.

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