Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Feds dropped the ball on banning only four exotic snake imports

Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 05:18 PM

Another great example of what's wrong with our government was exposed this week when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that four exotic types of snakes are being banned from being sold in the U.S. We support the ban, but five other snakes also needed to make that list and for reasons unknown to anyone, they weren't included.

Salazar announced that Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons cannot be legally bought or sold in the United States. What was not included were five other species of constrictors that cause just as much harm and make up two-thirds of the exotic reptile trade.

Some of these snakes are infesting the Everglades and moving into other parts of Florida. Because they are not native to our ecosystem, they wreak havoc on birds and other animals. They also can be deadly to humans. We've all been sickened of stories about giant pet snakes killing children when they get out of their enclosure.

Everyone understands that much goes into banning the sale of anything, but this is a no-brainer. Exotic reptiles that threaten our ecosystems should not be allowed to be sold here. It's common sense, so why weren't the other five, including boa constrictors and reticulated pythons, part of this ban?

The U.S. Geological Survey in 2009 issued a science-based report saying that all nine species of large, constricting snakes pose a threat. Water districts complained and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson testified to the damage being done in Florida's most treasured wild places by these species. But somewhere during the process someone put a stop to banning all nine species.

One reason this might have been slashed is because the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers spent $120,000 lobbying against the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal. Then they used the "jobs" angle, claiming that banning the trade would hurt their $100 million industry. The amount of losses to their business has been called absurd by folks who know better.

What no one mentions are the many millions of dollars that will be spent trying to control these snakes that make their way into the wild and thrive because they have few if any predators.

The Obama administration dropped the ball on this one. There is no logical reason why all of these snakes were not banned. Once again, a simple solution to a real problem was not dealt with completely, and we'll all pay the price in the long run.


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