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July 5, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States Issues Statement on Need for Regulation of Exotic Pets After Snake is Discovered Roaming in a Malden, Mass., Neighborhood

The Humane Society of the United States is issuing the following statement in response to news reports that a red-tailed boa constrictor--a type of deadly constrictor snake that can reach approximately 15 feet in length--was found loose in a Malden, Mass., residential area:

“Malden residents should be concerned about reports that a red-tailed boa constrictor was loose in their community. Giant constrictor snakes are capable of injuring and killing people, pets and wildlife,” said Alexis Fox, Massachusetts 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. The trade in these nonnative snakes threatens public safety, animal welfare and the environment."

Facts:

  • 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 2004, rescuers were called to a Boston apartment to rescue a woman being attacked by a 7-foot pet Burmese python and in March, paramedics rescued a Bridgewater pet shop employee while he was being attacked by a 6-foot Burmese python, who was swallowing the man’s hand and coiling around his arm.
  • 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.
  • The bill addresses 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 from suffering in the exotic animal 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.

Media Contact: Pepper Van Tassell: 240-751-0232; pvantassell@humanesociety.org

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