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House Republicans Say Interior Secretary's Proposed Snake Ban Bad for Business


Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee seem never to be at a loss for words when it comes to Democratic initiatives. This week the GOP members are shaking their heads over Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's efforts to get a grip on invasive snakes invading national parks in Florida.

Going so far as to produce an image reminiscent of those 1950s and 1960s horror film posters, the Republicans headed into a subcommittee hearing on Secretary Salazar's proposal with a suggestion that one and all Sit Back. Relax. Enjoy the Fright

Back in January the Interior secretary announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would propose to list the Burmese python and eight other large constrictor snakes that threaten the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems as “injurious wildlife” under the Lacey Act. The secretary made the announcement at the Port of New York, which his staff says serves as the largest point of entry in the nation for imports of wildlife and wildlife products. Last year, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors at John F. Kennedy International Airport handled more than 27, 000 separate wildlife shipments valued at more than $1 billion, or 16 percent of all U.S. wildlife imports, according to a USFWS release.

This week the Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee assailed that move, saying it would hurt small business owners. They added that America's sportsmen should be used to help fight the snakes spreading out across Everglades National Park, but noted that "hunters are currently only allowed to hunt snakes with their hands or a machete, making the sport incredibly inefficient and unpopular."

Here's what else the GOP had to say:

“Injurious” designation under the Lacey Act would make it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, buy or posses any of the nine constrictor snakes listed by the DOI. An outright ban on these nine constrictor snakes would result in significant economic damage to the pet industry, and those who support the sale and transportation of snakes and snake supplies. The Administration’s proposed policies are targeted at lawful pet owners and their private property and do NOTHING to address the stated concern over snakes currently existing in the wild in South Florida.

Get the Facts

* There are approximately 3,800 pet retail stores across the country that average $3.5-5.25 million in annual snake sales.

* The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the initial economic loss of snake supply revenue to be $3.6 to $10.7 million—that figure is believed to be greatly understated.

* In total, losses due to an “injurious” listing for Boa constrictors alone are expected to hit private pet dealers, pet supply stores and companies such Delta, FedEx, and UPS for a combined $1.6-$1.8 billion (Source: U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers.)

* The scope of this “injurious” listing is unprecedented and would cause severe economic pain for thousands of Americans by destroying livelihoods and possibly exacerbating the problem of constrictor snakes in South Florida as snake owners and breeders could then release their newly illegal snakes into the wild.

* Secretary Salazar based his decision on a 302-page report by the U.S. Geological Survey, which has been called into question by various scientists in a letter to the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. The scientists called the report a “gross overestimate of potential habitat for these snake species” and noted the Everglades were the “the only known breeding population” for pythons as FWS notes “large constrictors are likely to be limited to the warmest areas of the US.”

* Proponents of the Lacey Act designation argue that these snakes were released into the wild by their pet owners. However, Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992, completely destroyed a warehouse of exotic reptiles that potentially contained hundreds of Burmese pythons. This is thought to be a contributing factor to the prevalence of constrictor snakes in the Everglades.

* Sportsmen are good stewards of our public lands and their expertise and knowledge of the land should be used to help diminish the increasing snake population. Unfortunately, hunters are currently only allowed to hunt snakes with their hands or a machete, making the sport incredibly inefficient and unpopular.

And who said politics was boring?


What you all don't seem to understand is that while it is perfectly reasonable to ban these snakes in florida, they cannot survive elsewhere, thus it is ridiculous to ban them in other areas of the united states. Also, these snakes are not dangerous.
In one year, 90 people are killed by horses. 30 people are killed by large dogs. .5 people are killed by snakes. This isn't an issue of environmentalism or humanitarianism anywhere except florida, but it effects us all.
Also, you treat this as if this is a matter of big buisnessman who are making their money of the snakes. ITS NOT. These are average, middle class people, and if they lose their job, they won't be able to support their families. All for no good reason.

Hi. My name is Brian Beale and I am a reptile breeder in Oregon. I just want to say that I believe Banning constrictors is not a good solution to Florida's problem in the Everglades. This would be a devistating blow to all Herpers. Keepers and breeders alike. I am however, very much apposed to the gross importation off ALL reptile/animal species from their native habitats. In 1995 alone, 800,000 green iguanas were imported into the united states from the wild. These numbers are extremely outrageous and disturbing!! We should definately do something to control the sheer numbers of wildlife population that are being taken from their natural homes and being shipped into the US for people's amusement. I am all for having pet reptiles, as long as they are properly cared for. I believe that we should rely on domestic breeding of exotic reptiles as the source for our pets though. Way too many reptiles are imported every year. Many of these animals die during shipping or soon after arrival. Out of those that survive, many carry ticks, mites and other pests and illnesses with them. Wild caught reptiles do not make good pets either. Many do not take well to being in captivity - a lot of snakes won't breed in captivity if taken from the wild. And many reptiles end up in homes where they are not properly cared for, neglected and unfortunately released to the wild here. Tighter laws need to be formed to regulate the reptile/exotic pet industry, for the animals sake. But do not feel sorry for states such as Florida, for having problems with infestations of large constrictors, for they are one of the largest importers of these reptiles from other countries. Florida itself sells anacondas in their pet stores!! So to Florida I say, why don't you start by fighting your snake infestation right where the problems lye?: In your own state!

And to breeders: We need to unite! Many of us became breeders because of our love for reptiles. We need to start doing something about all this importing of wildcaught animals. It would benefit the animals, the earth, and the domestic breeding industry, but most of all the animals. If you feel like I do and want to make a difference, you can contact me at I have no grand plan yet, but I am looking for like minded individuals, breeders and organizations that would like to get involved and help form proposals and more to help make a change. Let's make a differance.

Brian Beale

I keep and am working on starting a small business centered around Reticulated Pythons.To the general public they see them as a mindless eating machine.Yes they get 20+ feet long but they have to be one of the best snakes if have the joy to keep.I have 3 and not once have I or anyone that has come in contact with them has been bitten, responsibility plays a huge role in this .People must take time to see that these gentle giants mean us no harm, but rather like human contact.Now looking at the profit aspect reticulated pythons are tipping the scales in sales and most breeders today are taking steps to ensure they end up in caring hands.Perusing this ban would destroy billions on dollars pouring into the American economy.In short stop and smell the roses because once there gone there gone and that's one more blow, one more buck that falls out of the American peoples hands.

Ball pythons rarely even grow to 5 feet in length so I am pretty sure it wont get to big to handle. Not to mention it is one of the most docile snakes you could own. Also once you spend some time around them you would notice, they do act like pets and they do have emotion. EVERYONE not all pythons get to be giants. There are hundreds of different pythons and only the ones listed in the ban grow to great lengths. Out of all the others most dont get bigger than 5ft and same goes for boa's. Before everyone decides to despise these creatures, try learning more about them, and that doent include the horror stories you hear in the news or the gossip on the streets. I mean actually taking the time to learn something, then form an opinion.

Though most people are not used to snakes there are a few things you should know, one they are not mindless aggressors, the only time they are aggressive is when they are scared ( self defense) and feeding. Naturally they dont eat much due to the fact that they are so large, they require one meal and they can go on that for several months and sometimes a year. Also due to their size they don't travel like most animals. They need to save energy since they dont produce their own heat. Most important of all they have personalities just like a dog or cat. Personally I have worked with large snakes my entire life and I don't think anyone should be able to own a burm or anaconda, but to completely outlaw them would be nutz. Also its not BIG business, most breeders I know gain little on each clutch sold, they don't do more than break even due to the costs involved in breeding. They do it for a little extra cash to get by and pay the bills and they are passionate about it. For those who do make a significant amount on a clutch only get that amount a few times a year so in the end it balances out to very little (again considering the amount to put into the breeding). Why should we have to part with loved ones (our slithering family) because a small percentage of people were not responsible owners. The same thing happens with hamsters, birds, dogs, fish, and so on but they are not banned, and why, because they are socially accepted and have shorter lifespans.

I have lived in Collier County, Florida for over 20 years and have heard the stories of giant snakes in our wetlands. Speaking for most South Floridians, I believe that the importation of giant snakes from exotic places should be completely illegal. People get pythons and anacondas as pets, thinking they will stay the same size as they were when they bought them, WRONG. The snakes end up being too huge to handle and in turn, their “owners” release them into the Everglades. This causes horrible consequences for our native Florida wildlife and discourages tourism to our South Florida National Parks. So, thanks all you Python owners out there :(

P.S. To Haley Shaver, you shouldnt even have a ball python as a pet, its not like it acts like a pet, all they do is eat and slither, reptiles are not even capable of any form of emotion, so how it is a pet I am not entirely sure. What are you going to do when the snake gets to big for you to handle, or you finally realize that a snake is not a pet. Are you going to release it into the Everglades too?

They're planning on banning interstate trade and transportation concerning huge pythons and boas? Just because Florida can't managetheir ecosystem? That's ridiculous. I have a corn snake and ball python, and am just a little woried. If they ban the interstate sell and transport of these babies, where will it stop? Will I be able to take my snakes with me when I move, or will they get to banning interstate transport of cornsnakes because some got out and started eating baby mice and started curling up in nests of endangered species? Besides, any one who knows anything about breeding snakes is aware if this bill passed, the snake breeders would be bankrupt. 7,000.00 or so is a lot of money invested to just lose on a lawmaker's whim.

There is little I can say or do to change anyones opinion of this situation, however, I want to start off by saying that my Scaled Americans are the world to me. My whole life I have never been without a Burmese or a Reticulated Python, they have become my children and my best friends. I trust my "snakes" more than any human I know. I care for them and love them and in return they do the same for me. It is inherently a human trait to turn on those who have loved us and taken care of us, other animals do not posses this, as they are smart enough to know better. I sleep with my snakes, I take them for walks, I let them swim and take showers, they are my world. Not only would a ban like this ruin my world, it would destroy the worlds of many large breeders who have also dedicated their lives to raising captive bred reptiles. It is already illegal to import most species of boids, therefor, that is really not the issue at this point. Do not tell me to find a different job, this is what makes me happy, this is what I know and what I love, and I know for a fact that I am not alone when I say this.

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