DC (USFWS) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that would ban the
importation and interstate transportation of four nonnative constrictor snakes
that threaten the Everglades and other sensitive ecosystems across the United
States, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today.
final rule – which incorporates public comments, economic analysis, and environmental
assessment – lists the Burmese python, the yellow anaconda, and the northern
and southern African pythons as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act in order
to restrict their spread in the wild in the United States. It is expected to
publish in the Federal Register in the coming days.
"Thanks to the work of our scientists, Senator Bill Nelson, and others, there is a large and growing understanding of the real and immediate threat that the Burmese python and other invasive snakes pose to the Everglades and other ecosystems in the United States," Salazar said. "The Burmese python has already gained a foothold in the Florida Everglades, and we must do all we can to battle its spread and to prevent further human contributions of invasive snakes that cause economic and environmental damage."
four species were assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey as having a high risk
of establishing populations and spreading to other geographic areas in that
agency's 2009 report, Giant Constrictors:
Biological and Management Profiles and an Establishment Risk Assessment for
Large Species of Pythons, Anacondas, and the Boa Constrictor.
Sixty days after publication of the final rule in the Federal
transport and importation of live individuals, gametes, viable eggs, or hybrids
of the Burmese python, northern and southern African pythons and yellow
anaconda into the United States will be prohibited. None of these species is
native to the United States.
"Burmese pythons have already caused substantial harm in Florida,"
said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "By taking this action
today, we will help prevent further harm from these large constrictor snakes to
native wildlife, especially in habitats that can support constrictor snake
populations across the southern United States and in U.S. territories."
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.
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 Service.
The Burmese python has established breeding populations in South
Florida, including the Everglades, that have caused significant damage to
wildlife and that continue to pose a great risk to many native species,
including threatened and endangered species. Burmese pythons on North Key Largo
have killed and eaten highly endangered Key Largo wood rats, and other pythons
preyed on endangered wood storks.
In the Everglades alone, state and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars
addressing threats posed by pythons – an amount far less than is needed to
combat their spread. If these species spread to other areas, state and
federal agencies in these areas could be forced to spend more money for control
and containment purposes.
and its partners, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC), South Florida Water Management District, and others are
committed to controlling the spread of Burmese pythons and other large
nonnative constrictors. For example, FWC recently implemented the use of a
"snake sniffing" dog to help in its efforts to find and eradicate large
constrictor snakes. This dog was present at the Secretary's announcement
today, along with a 13-foot-long Burmese python.
the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act, the Department of the
Interior is authorized to regulate the importation and interstate transport of
wildlife species determined to be injurious to humans, the interests of
agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or the wildlife resources
of the United States.
For more information on injurious wildlife and efforts to list the four species of snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/invasives/news.html