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June 15, 2012

The HSUS Issues Statement in Wake of Loose Python in Shiocton, Wisc.

The Humane Society of the United States is issuing the following statement in response to news reports that a loose, 10-foot python was spotted in the Navarino Nature Wildlife Area in Shiocton, Wisc.:

“Visitors to the Navarino Nature Wildlife Area are concerned--as they should be--about reports that a 10-foot python is on the loose in the park. Giant constrictor snakes are capable of injuring and killing people, pets and wildlife, including endangered species,” said Alyson Bodai, Wisconsin state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This incident, and hundreds like it, illustrates the urgent need for Wisconsin legislators to pass a law restricting the private possession of dangerous wild animals, and 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. The trade in these nonnative snakes threatens public safety, animal welfare and the environment."

Only six states remain with little to no restrictions on the private possession of dangerous wild animals as pets, including Wisconsin. The other states are Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia and South Carolina. Just last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law banning the private acquisition of dangerous exotic wildlife as pets.

Facts:

•    H.R. 511, introduced by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., which has already passed the House Judiciary Committee, 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.
•    Earlier this month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the Dangerous Wild Animal Act into law, effectively banning new ownership of many dangerous wild animals and requiring existing owners of exotic animals to obtain permits and liability insurance. The law was crafted following the October 2011 Zanesville tragedy, in which more than 50 dangerous wild animals were killed after their owner freed them from their cages in a residential community.
•    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 2001, a 5-year-old Beloit boy was bitten by an escaped 10-foot python who crawled into his bed and in 2007, employees of a Milwaukee rental car company discovered a red-tailed boa constrictor in a car’s glove compartment.
•    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 U.S. Geological Survey 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: Pepper Van Tassell: 240-751-0232; pvantassell@humanesociety.org

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