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May 30, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States and Animal Rescue League of Iowa Issue Statements in Wake of Loose Boa Constrictor in Bloomfield, Iowa

Animal Rescue League of Iowa

The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa issued the following statements in response to news reports that a loose red-tailed boa constrictor escaped from a pen in a high school science department in Bloomfield, Iowa.

“Residents of Bloomfield are concerned, as they should be, about reports that a 6-foot red-tailed boa constrictor is on the loose in their community. Giant constrictor snakes are capable of injuring and killing people and pets,” said Carol Griglione, Iowa state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This incident, and hundreds like it, illustrates the urgent need for the U.S. Congress to pass H.R. 511, which would stop the importation and interstate commerce of deadly giant constrictor snakes for the pet trade and has already passed the House Judiciary Committee. The trade in these nonnative snakes threatens public safety, animal welfare and the environment."

“Keeping and handling of venomous and constricting snakes is for true experts; the keeping of them as pets by the general public is a formula for disaster, both for the public and the snakes,” said Tom Colvin, executive director, Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

Facts:

  • H.R. 511, introduced by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., would add nine species of large constrictor snakes to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act. The legislation would ban the import or interstate trade for use as pets of the Indian python (including Burmese python), reticulated python, Northern African python, Southern African python, boa constrictor, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, DeSchauensee’s anaconda and Beni anaconda.
  • Unsuspecting people across the country are encountering, and even being attacked by someone else’s escaped or released constrictor snake while tending to their gardens, making lemonade in their kitchens, pulling laundry from their washing machines, or sleeping in their beds.  In 1984, an 11-month-old Ottumwa boy was killed in his crib by his father's 10-foot pet reticulated python who escaped from a cage. And a red-tailed boa constrictor, like the one who escaped from Davis County High School, killed a 34-year-old Nebraska man in 2010.
  • The bill addressed the trade in nine species identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as posing “high” or “medium” risk of becoming established in the wild as an invasive species. Passage of this legislation would spare thousands of high-maintenance, powerful predators the suffering of the exotic animals trade.
  • In March 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule to ban nine species of pythons, boa constrictors, and anacondas identified in the USGS report as posing significant risk to the environment. In January 2012, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a final rule restricting trade in just four of the nine species—a helpful step, but one covering just 30 percent of imports of the nine species posing a significant risk to the environment.

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Media Contact: Raul Arce-Contreras, 301.721.6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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