US officials have announced a ban on imports of four types of snakes after years of unsuccessful efforts to eradicate the giant reptiles from Everglades National Park in Florida and from other ecologically sensitive areas.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the ban Tuesday on Burmese pythons, which has become one of the most notorious invasive species in U.S. history, as well as yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons.
“It does us no good to put in these billions of dollars in investments in the Everglades only to have these giant constrictor snakes come in and undo the good that we are doing,” said Salazar, who was joined by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and a captive 13-foot Burmese python. “The action we’re taking today is a milestone in the protection of the Everglades.”
Salazar added that the new ban would take effect within about 60 days and make it illegal to import the snakes or transport them across state lines.
Despite the government’s efforts to protect the Everglades from the four nonnative snake types, some conservationists said an additional five other species that were recommended to be banned should have been included on the list.
“While we are pleased that four extremely harmful constrictor species will no longer be allowed into this country, we are disappointed that five of the proposed snakes were not included in the rule,” said Peter Jenkins, spokesman for the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species in a statement. “The snakes that were excluded pose a serious threat to our already fragile ecosystems and to humans. If your boat is leaking, why would you only plug some of the holes?”
As previously reported, Pythons have become a growing problem in Florida’s revered swampland as they consume native wildlife and compete with native predators. Biologists say most pythons in the Everglades are thought to have been released there by their owners once they realized that the “pets” can grow from just a foot to 12 feet long within their first two years of life.
One was found last October to have just consumed an adult deer.
Here is a local news clip discussing the snake ban and its effect on the Everglades: