December 10, 2009
Senate Panel Approves Large Constrictor Snake Trade Ban
The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for approving S. 373, a bill to add certain constrictor snakes to the list of injurious species that cannot be imported or moved in interstate commerce as pets. The committee amended the bill to cover nine species of large constrictor snakes identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as posing high or medium risk to the environment. The amendment was supported by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Sen. Bill Nelson and The HSUS. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
"The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to lawmakers and Interior Department officials for working to prohibit the trade in all nine species of large constrictor snakes, getting ahead of this problem and not facing the next new fad in the exotic pet trade," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer for The HSUS. "Congress must swiftly pass this important bill to prevent further threats to public safety, animal welfare and our natural resources."
The HSUS and HSLF express their thanks to bill sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Committee Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Subcommittee Chair Ben Cardin, D-Md., for their leadership on this measure.
"As stewards of our country's vast public lands and natural resources, we have to deal with the threats posed by invasive species," Sen. Nelson said, adding that more still needs to be done to better regulate all kinds of foreign plants and animals coming into the United States.
If large constrictor snakes escape or are released outdoors, they can multiply rapidly and prey on native wildlife, depleting vulnerable species. Burmese pythons are already widely established in the Everglades, making it difficult if not impossible to remove them, and boa constrictors and Northern African pythons have been found in a smaller area of Florida. Action is needed now to prevent these snakes from spreading further and to prevent other species from becoming established. If only a few species are included, the trade will simply shift from one giant snake to another.
- A 2-year-old Florida girl killed by a python this year was the fourth person killed by a pet python in the United States since 2006. The others were adults with experience handling reptiles, two of them killed by reticulated pythons.
- S. 373 targets the exotic pet trade. These snakes could still be imported and moved in interstate commerce for zoological, educational, medical and scientific purposes with a permit.
- The bill would not affect possession or sales within a state. People would keep and retain responsibility for existing animals.
- The nine species included in the amended bill are: Burmese/Indian pythons, Northern African pythons, Southern African pythons, reticulated pythons, boa constrictors and four species of anacondas.
- Related legislation (H.R. 2811) was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on Nov. 6 where HSUS testified in support of the bill and urged an amendment to cover nine species.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.