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August 14, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States Issues Statement in Wake of Loose Python in Albertville, Ala.

The Humane Society of the United States’ Alabama State Director Mindy Gilbert is issuing the following statement in response to news reports that an 11-foot Burmese python is on the loose in Albertville, Ala.:

“Residents of Albertville are concerned, as they should be, about reports that an 11-foot Burmese python is on the loose. Giant constrictor snakes are capable of injuring and killing people and pets. This incident, and hundreds like it, illustrates the urgent need for Alabama 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 and has already passed the House Judiciary Committee. The trade in these non-native snakes threatens public safety, animal welfare and the environment."

Facts:

  • An emaciated 8½-foot Burmese python, weighing only 13 pounds, was able to kill a 2-year-old child in Florida in 2009.
  • 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 2010, a Sumiton woman was treated by paramedics after she was attacked and bitten on her arms and legs by a 10-foot python in her backyard while trying to keep the snake from reaching her child. That same year, a Florence couple discovered a 10-foot boa constrictor while walking along a nature trail, and a dead 9½-foot boa constrictor was found stretched along a road in Lawrence County.
  • Already an invasive species in Florida, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded that Burmese pythons could surive in one-third of the United States, including Alabama.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

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

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