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January 20, 2010

The HSUS Commends Interior Department Action to Restrict Trade in Nine Giant Constrictor Snake Species

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud the U.S. Department of the Interior for taking action to list nine species of large constrictor snakes as injurious, which will prohibit the importation and interstate commerce of the animals for the exotic pet trade. These nine species were identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as posing risk to the environment.

"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's leadership will help stem the ecological devastation that nonnative, large constrictor snakes can cause when they escape into our environment, and it will protect public safety and the welfare of the animals," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "We also commend U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representatives Kendrick Meek and Tom Rooney for championing legislation to address these issues."

In addition to the regulatory action, legislation is advancing in the U.S. Congress to list the nine species as injurious. S. 373 was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in December 2009. Related legislation, H.R. 2811, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in July 2009.

If large constrictor snakes escape or are released into the environment, they can multiply rapidly and prey on native wildlife, depleting vulnerable species. Burmese pythons are widely established in the Everglades, and boa constrictors and northern African pythons have also been found in Florida. Action is needed now to prevent these snakes from spreading and to prevent other large constrictor snake species from becoming established. 

Facts

  • A 2-year-old Florida girl killed by a Burmese python in 2009 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.
  • This month, a state-coordinated hunt in Florida reportedly turned up five African rock pythons – three were captured and two got away. A 12-foot green anaconda was reportedly found in a horse park.
  • The Interior Department's proposal will be published in early February, and the public will have 60 days to comment.
  • Species listed as injurious can still be imported and moved in interstate commerce for zoological, educational, medical and scientific purposes with a permit.
  • Listing a species as injurious does not affect possession or sales within a state.
  • The nine species are the Burmese/Indian python, northern African python, southern African python, reticulated python, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, DeSchauensee's anaconda and boa constrictor.
  • In November 2009, The HSUS testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of H.R. 2811, urging inclusion of these nine species in the bill.

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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.

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