MIAMI (CBSMiami) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday during a trip to the Everglades a new ban that will make it illegal to import Burmese pythons and three other non-native constrictor snakes.
Salazar, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and Senator Bill Nelson, made the announcement at a pumping station along the Tamiami Trail, a known hot spot for Burmese pythons – one of the nation’s most invasive species.
“Why this has taken as long as it has with people fighting us is a mystery. I filed this legislation in early 2009,” said Nelson.
Under the rule, Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas, and the northern and southern African pythons have declared an “injurious” species which makes it illegal to import them or sell them across state lines.
“These four species are the ones that are creating the greatest threat in the Everglades,” said Salazar.
Wildlife officials hope the ban, which will go into effect in 60 days, will finally put a dent in a snake population which is booming, appearing not just in the Everglades but in places like Palmetto Bay where a 17-foot python appeared in a backyard pool on Christmas Day.
“The giant constrictor snakes do not belong in the Everglades and they do not belong in people’s backyards,” said Nelson.
Last October, water management contractors working in the Everglades captured and killed a 16-foot Burmese python, which they said had just consumed an adult deer.
Burmese pythons on North Key Largo have killed and eaten highly endangered Key Largo wood rats, and other pythons preyed on endangered wood storks.
Most people who own any of these four species will not be affected. Those who own any of these four species of snakes will be allowed to keep them if allowed by state law. However, they cannot take, send, or sell them across state lines. Those who wish to export these species may do so from a designated port within their state after acquiring appropriate permits from the wildlife service.
Ashe said the Service will continue to consider listing as injurious the five other species of nonnative snakes that the agency also proposed in 2010 – the reticulated python, boa constrictor, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda. Once that process is completed, the Service will publish final determinations on those species.