What’s your reaction to taking a trip to the Everglades National Park, one of the jewels showcasing America’s natural beauty, and seeing a giant constrictor snake stretched across the road in the evening light?
If it’s one of revulsion and sadness that these creatures don’t belong here, you might want to make your voice heard as the federal government considers expanding a ban on such snakes.
In 2012, after taking public comment and looking at business and environmental analysis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed only four species of constrictors — the Burmese python, yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons — to be injurious wildlife. That meant those species could not be imported or taken across state lines.
That didn’t stop the nightmare in the Everglades, where Burmese pythons — which can grow to 18 feet and weight 150 pounds — already are breeding and spreading. Rabbits, raccoons, opossums, bobcats and foxes, which once were common in the Everglades, now are rarely seen. Though it’s impossible to definitively blame the pythons, the conclusion is a logical one.
Astoundingly, the United States Association of Reptile Keepers sued to overturn that watered-down ban, saying it would cripple a $100 million industry in sales of constricting snakes. The outcome of that suit is pending.
Now, the Fish and Wildlife Service is again considering a ban on five snakes omitted from the 2012 decision — including the boa constrictor, green anaconda, Beni anaconda, deSchauensee’s anaconda and reticulated python. The green anaconda, the largest snake in the world, already has been seen in the Everglades. The boa constructor is established in Miami-Dade County.
Those in the snake trade offer a weak argument that cold weather will restrict the giant snakes to South Florida. But a recent survey showed that mangroves, which are cold-sensitive plants, are moving up Florida’s coast as the climate warms. Is it unreasonable to expect that snakes would do the same?
The public comment period for the proposed ban ends July 24. To add your voice, go to federalregister.gov/a/2014-14712. This foolishness of importing such dangerous species has to stop.