Fla. wants snake ban moved forward

Dec. 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A ban on imports and sales of Burmese pythons has stalled because the White House is "jittery" about being seen as over-regulating, backers of the proposal say.

The proposal has been swallowed up in White House bureaucracy for nearly a year, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

In the Everglades and surrounding areas, a population of pythons and other large exotic snakes estimated in the thousands has eaten everything from alligators to endangered wood rats, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates more than 1.8 million of the nine species of large constrictors it wants declared "injurious'' -- pythons, boas and anacondas -- were imported between 1999 and 2008. But securing sweeping nationwide curbs on the pet trade, which many scientists blame for first unleashing pythons into the Everglades, has been difficult.

The Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to declare the seven species "injurious" under the Lacey Act, which would not require congressional approval, has been stalled since March in the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Some say they believe the snake ban proposal has lost momentum in a Washington political climate that has cooled to new environmental rules.

"I think the White House got jittery that somehow this was fitting into a frame of regulatory over-reaching,'" said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, which has joined environmental groups in lobbying for approval of the python import ban.

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