Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday announced that the federal government will ban the trade of Burmese pythons, the notorious reptiles that have made their mark on the Everglades by swallowing whole rabbits, deer and even alligators. The move was lauded by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who has been fighting for more action to be taken against exotic creatures that are all but taking over parts of South Florida.
In 60 days, people will no longer be able to buy or transport the Burmese python, the yellow anaconda or the northern and southern African pythons in the U.S. — a move Salazar called a “milestone for us in the protection of the Everglades.”
Though Salazar’s action will ban commerce in four species of snakes, some environmental groups argue it isn’t enough. Organizations including the Humane Society had called on Congress to pass a measure that would have declared nine species of snakes “injurious species” under the Lacey Act, but five of those were put on hold for further review.
“Interior Secretary Salazar’s announcement banning trade in Burmese pythons is a welcome move, but The Humane Society of the United States is disappointed that the Obama administration dramatically weakened an Interior Department proposal to list nine species of large constrictor snakes as ‘injurious’ under the Lacey Act, which would prohibit importation and interstate movement of these deadly non-native snakes as pets,” reads a Humane Society press release sent out yesterday.
So far, Burmese pythons have proved the most present in the Everglades and surrounding areas, but African rock pythons are beginning to show up in large numbers, too. Boa constrictors have also been found (.pdf) in South Florida — and the species has a tendency to spread quickly, according to scientists.