U.S. House Judiciary Committee passes exotic snake bill
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee today passed H.R. 511, a bill that will add nine species of large constrictor snakes to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act.
H.R. 511, which is sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, would ban the import or interstate trade for use as pets of the Indian python (including Burmese python), reticulated python, Northern African python, Southern African python, boa constrictor, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, DeSchauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda. Those nine species have been identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as posing “high” or “medium” risk of becoming established in the wild as an invasive species.
Supporters of the legislation say its passage could help thwart Florida’s exotic snake problem, specifically in the Everglades, where an estimated 10,000 to 100,000 pythons currently live.
The Humane Society of the United States commended the bill’s passage in a press release sent out today. “The House Judiciary Committee recognized that the trade in large, constricting snakes is reckless and irresponsible, putting people, ecosystems and the animals that live in them, and the snakes themselves at risk,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “We hope that the bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floor soon, and that the Senate takes up the matter expeditiously.”
Exotic pets, like snakes, pose a major threat to native wildlife and can cost the government millions of dollars to address.
According to one recently-published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ever-proliferating pythons in the Florida Everglades appear to be wiping out large numbers of small mammals.
In March 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule to ban the nine species outlined in Rooney’s bill, which were identified by the United States Geological Survey report as posing a “significant risk.” In January 2012, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a final rule restricting trade in just four of the nine species - a move that environmentalists say isn’t enough. By including only some species, critics say the trade will simply shift to other species, like boa constrictors and reticulated pythons. Unless all nine species are banned, threats to public safety, animal welfare, and the environment will continue unabated.