Congress proposes ban on snake sales

March 24, 2010 at 12:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The federal government has proposed a sales ban on constrictive snakes that have become invasive species destroying indigenous animals in Florida.

But the ban proposed in Washington on pythons, boa constrictors and similar snake species imperils the livelihood of thousands of breeders, importers and pet shop owners, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposed the ban to curb the thousands of Burmese pythons that are eating birds, deer and alligators in the Everglades, the newspaper reported.

The Burmese pythons' present a "very disturbing picture of how aggressively these snakes are chowing down on the very native species we are spending large sums to conserve," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the subcommittee of national parks, adding that damage control from invasive species costs more than $120 billion per year.

"There are millions of Americans who own pythons and boa constrictors. They believe, as I do, that what Secretary Salazar has proposed is unprecedented in its scope, potentially catastrophic in its economic impact and likely to result in a range of unintended consequences," Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., said.

Boa constrictor limitations alone would cost the pet industry $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion. Approximately 3,800 pet stores make snake sales each year worth $3.5 million to $5.25 million, Republicans said.

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