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December 19, 2011

The HSUS Again Calls on Obama Administration to Adopt Rule to Ban Trade in Burmese Pythons and Other Large Constricting Snakes

Appropriations Committee Leaders, Including Florida’s Senior House Member, Say Continued Inaction Will “Cost Taxpayers Millions of Dollars”

The Humane Society of the United States called again on the White House to stop delaying action on a rule to ban the imports of tens of thousands of large constricting snakes into the country and they were joined by House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norm Dicks, D-Wash., and former Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., in demanding action on the long-delayed rule by the end of the year. The lawmakers sent a letter to the President urging the White House to finalize a rule to add nine species of deadly snakes, including pythons, anacondas and boa constrictors, to the list of “injurious” species under the Lacey Act, which will prohibit the importation and interstate movement of these deadly nonnative snakes.

“As senior members of the House Committee on Appropriations long concerned about conservation and federal spending,” wrote the lawmakers, “we simply cannot afford additional spending in the billions to control invasive species…We must begin to turn around this problem and to prevent it from spreading, and adopting the rule is the most important thing we can do on that front.”

Large constrictor snakes, including Burmese pythons kept as pets, have been released or escaped into the environment and have colonized Everglades National Park and other portions of south Florida. The United States has already spent billions of dollars to restore the Everglades, including protection efforts for endangered species, such as the Florida panther.  The U.S. Department of Interior expects to spend $100 million in 2011 controlling invasive species, including the pythons breeding wild in Florida.

“If this rule is not finalized and implemented, this problem will continue to cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually,” the Congressmen warned in their letter to the White House.

 “Pythons have killed a two-year-old toddler in Florida, swallowed alligators and gulped down a deer,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS.  “It’s only a matter of time before Florida officials discover that a python has killed a Florida panther or some other endangered animal. We must stop the trade in these constricting snakes, so we don’t add to an already dangerous situation.”

In addition, a letter from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and a bipartisan House  letter led by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.-16th,  co-signed by Reps. David Rivera, R-Fla.-25th, Ted Deutch, D-Fla.-19th, Richard Nugent, R-Fla.-5th, Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.-13th, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.-20th, and Allen West R-Fla.-22nd was sent to the White House in November urging President Obama to finalize the rule.

This important rule has been delayed by the very industry that peddles high-maintenance dangerous predators to unqualified people at flea markets, swap meets and over the Internet and have killed 15 people in the United States, including seven children. Though often marketed as low-maintenance pets, constrictor snakes may suffer from starvation, dehydration and other symptoms of neglect.

The average pet owner cannot provide the sophisticated care needed to maintain these animals in a humane, healthy and safe manner.

Media Contact: Katie Jarl – 301-258-1483, kjarl@humanesociety.org

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