Bill to ban imported large snakes advances

Dec. 11, 2009 at 2:32 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A bill approved Thursday by a U.S. Senate committee would ban the importing of large constrictors like the Burmese pythons that have invaded South Florida.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. In addition to Burmese pythons, it lists reticulated pythons, two types of African pythons, boa constrictors and three species of anaconda, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Burmese pythons, which can grow to more than 20 feet long and weigh 200 pounds, are known to be breeding in the Everglades, with a population estimated at 100,000. The snakes are believed to be descended from pets released when they became too large for their owners to handle.

"As steward of our country's vast public lands and natural resources, we have to deal with the threats posed by invasive species," Nelson said in a statement after the committee vote.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council has been lobbying against the bill, arguing the problem can be dealt with by regulation and education. The Humane Society and environmental groups support a ban.

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