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End the Everglades horror story

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Posted by: EricWI at Tue Dec 6 17:05:43 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

End the Everglades horror story
OUR OPINION: Obama administration should enact anti-commerce rule for pythons

Killer pythons in the Everglades are not a joke, a punch line or a great screenplay for a cheesy horror movie. These large constrictor snakes are real and a danger to the ecological and economic vitality of the River of Grass. These invasive snakes are not natural predators helping to maintain an ecological balance in this environment. Rather, these snakes are gobbling deer and alligators whole and putting people in danger.

The fight to eradicate them has become a drain of scarce public funds. And at a time when restoring the deteriorating River of Grass is environmental imperative No. 1 in Florida, the killer snakes are a huge, creepy menace.

So why won’t the Obama administration sign a rule that would ban the trade in these creatures?

Such imported snakes have been sold on the Internet, at swap shops or at flea markets to people wholly unqualified to handle them. In South Florida, when these snakes outgrew owners’ ability to safely keep them at home, they did the easiest — and most irresponsible — thing possible: Released them into the Everglades. Others sometimes escaped during hurricanes.

A group of Florida’s congressional leaders is calling on the president to enact a rule barring commerce in dangerous snakes. In this highly polarized political climate that has stopped law-making in its tracks, the fact that this is a bipartisan group of officials alone should get Mr. Obama’s attention. Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the Democratic side, and Republican Reps. Allen West and David Rivera are among those who are supporting the rule. Here’s want the rule would do: It would put nine species of deadly snakes, including boa constrictors, anacondas and pythons, on a list of banned “injurious species” under the Lacey Act.

The proposal to add the snakes to the list has been under scrutiny for a long five years, predating the current administration in Washington. In 2006, the South Florida Water Management District petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking that Burmese pythons be classified injurious. Eighteen months later, in 2008, Fish and Wildlife sought public comment on the proposal.

A year and a half after that, the U.S. Geological Survey determined that constrictor snakes were a threat to the stability of natural ecosystems. In 2010, Fish and Wildlife issued a proposed rule to label the nine species of snakes as injurious; and in March of this year, the White House Office of Management and Budget/Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs received the final ruling.

This rule has been thoroughly vetted, scientifically and otherwise. It’s time to stop the trafficking in these snakes. Many states, including Florida, are out in front of the federal law, where they have made it illegal to breed, sell or possess these animals. The federal rule would stop movement into the United States and across state lines. For instance, in 2003 Congress banned interstate sale of tigers, lions and other big cats.

Adding the nine species of constrictor snakes to the “injurious” list would go a long way in bolstering Florida’s no-possession law, working hand-in-glove to crack down on this deadly scourge. In the fight to save the Everglades, the federal government should not throw good money after bad. It’s time for the administration to prohibit trade in snakes that have become a real-life horror story.
www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/05/2533074/end-the-everglades-horror-story.html


   

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