Current owners won’t be dramatically affected by new regulation
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the import and interstate transport of four non-native snakes will elicit criticism from some snake enthusiasts, but will go a long way toward limiting more harm to the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems.
The final rule lists the Burmese python, the yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act in order to restrict their spread in the wild in the United States.
“Burmese pythons have already caused substantial harm in Florida,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By taking this action today, we will help prevent further harm from these large constrictor snakes to native wildlife, especially in habitats that can support constrictor snake populations across the southern United States and in U.S. territories.”
“Thanks to the work of our scientists, Senator Bill Nelson, and others, there is a large and growing understanding of the real and immediate threat that the Burmese python and other invasive snakes pose to the Everglades and other ecosystems in the United States,” Salazar said. “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.”
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey suggest the snakes could spread beyond the Everglades to invade other ecosystems.
Sixty days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, interstate transport and importation of live individuals, gametes, viable eggs, or hybrids of the Burmese python, northern and southern African pythons and yellow anaconda into the United States will be prohibited. None of these species is native to the United States.
Ashe said the USFWS will continue to consider listing as injurious the five other species of nonnative snakes that the agency also proposed in 2010 – the reticulated python, boa constrictor, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda.
Most people who own any of these four species will not be affected. Those who own any of these four species of snakes will be allowed to keep them if allowed by state law. However, they cannot take, send, or sell them across state lines. Those who wish to export these species may do so from a designated port within their state after acquiring appropriate permits from the Service.
The Burmese python has established breeding populations in South Florida, including the Everglades, that have caused significant damage to wildlife and that continue to pose a great risk to many native species, including threatened and endangered species. Burmese pythons on North Key Largo have killed and eaten highly endangered Key Largo wood rats, and other pythons preyed on endangered wood storks.
In the Everglades alone, state and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars addressing threats posed by pythons – an amount far less than is needed to combat their spread. If these species spread to other areas, state and federal agencies in these areas could be forced to spend more money for control and containment purposes.
Under the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act, the Department of the Interior is authorized to regulate the importation and interstate transport of wildlife species determined to be injurious to humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States.
For more information on injurious wildlife and efforts to list the four species of snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/invasives/news.html.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County news Tagged: | Burmese Python, Everglades, Lacey Act, U.S. bans snake imports, United States, United States Fish and Wildlife Service