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August 7, 2013

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Must Ban All Large Constrictor Snakes after a Giant Python Killed Two Children in Canada

After a 14-foot, 100 pound African rock python killed two children in New Brunswick, Canada, The Humane Society of the United States again urged the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to immediately ban the import and interstate transport of five additional large constrictor snake species for the pet trade. The African rock python and three other species of large constrictor snakes are already banned in interstate commerce, but it represents only a partial policy because a total of nine species, including reticulated pythons and boa constrictors, had been identified previously by the U.S. Geological Service as medium- or high-risk of colonizing U.S. lands and becoming a greater invasive species threat.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, issued the following statement:

“The tragic death of these two young children once again illustrates that these powerful wild animals belong in their native countries, not in private hands in the United States. Private ownership of large constricting snakes almost never turns out well for these animals, it puts people at risk, and it threatens our natural resources and native wildlife species. The risks are just too great, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has already taken a positive step by banning the species involved in this tragedy, must act to curb this trafficking of this class of wild animals for the pet trade.”

Facts:

  • In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey recommended banning nine species of large constrictor snakes under the Lacey Act. In 2012, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service banned only four species—Burmese pythons, northern and southern African rock pythons and yellow anacondas. The agency has yet to take action on reticulated pythons, green anacondas, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, Beni anaconda and boa constrictors. By banning only four of the nine species, the trade simply shifts and does not solve the problem.
  • Boa constrictors, identified as ‘high risk’ by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, have become established as an invasive species in more areas than any other boa or python species. Boa constrictors have colonized in Puerto Rico and pose serious threats to other states and territories, including Hawaii, where loose boa constrictors are being found with greater frequency.
  • These apex predators—a product of the exotic reptile trade—pose a danger to people, pets and wildlife. In the U.S., a dozen people have been killed by African rock pythons, Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons and boa constrictors since 1990.
  • There are hundreds of reptile species allowed to be sold as pets in interstate commerce, and barring the trade in just nine of the most deadly snakes will not  impact businesses and pet owners that buy and sell other, less dangerous snakes and reptiles.

Visit humanesociety.org/exoticpets for more information.

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: cell 240-620-3263, office 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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