The Python Ban

I have snakes and support their ownership.  The Python Ban is an affront on pet ownership as a whole.  I realize that there is a problem that is confined completely to the Everglades and outcroppings of surrounding areas; however this problem IS only in those areas within Florida.  There are already pieces of legislation in Florida for ownership of Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese pythons)

The original bill included 9 species of snake, including another 10 sub species of Boa constrictor.  What stopped them from keeping all nine species of snakes is a requirement that the federal government has in place that involves a massive amount of time, field research and money.  Adding boa constrictors or any other species to the current Python Ban would push the financial burden quota over that amount and force the Fish and Wildlife Services to actually do some real work to put all nine species on the Lacey Act invasive species list.  So, basically, in order to add all nine snakes, they had to prove that the financial burden on the country (on citizens, man power, etc) was worth the impact it would have.

Organizations like HSUS and PETA were also financial backers for this bill.  On multiple occasions across the country serious herpers have offered to go into the Everglades and help remove these animals.  HSUS opposes this measure, stating that, “Hunters could mistakenly remove non-target snakes from the ecosystem.”  Anyone who considers themselves a reptile person knows the difference between a Burmese python and native species like cottonmouths, corn snakes, king snakes, etc.  In fact, the few scientist/breeders who were able to go into the Everglades did a lot of research on the last few years of cold weather Florida had.  Greg Graziani and Shawn Heflick discovered that a large majority of the Burm population died during those cold snaps, dwindling the numbers of their populations a great deal.  The FWS, HSUS, PETA, and our Secretary of Interior ignored this information.  They also ignored an independent study where ten Burmese pythons were released with tracking devices in a controlled closed environment in South Carolina.  All ten pythons did not survive the winter.  They discovered that the probability of these snakes flourishing outside of the Everglades was minimal.

Now, I am not opposed to regulation.  Permits, licenses, etc., are the kinds of legislation I have no problem with.  If homeowners associations and apartments ban these animals, I have no problem with that.  Most states already have legislation in place.  Florida already has Burmese pythons banned from their state.  There are truly irresponsible people in this country who buy these animals without doing the research and having the knowledge of them.

There are, however; people out there who make their living by raising, selling and breeding these animals.  They have spent thousands of dollars to house these animals properly, to provide food, substrate, electricity, etc.  Most of these people take amazing care of these animals because without them, they wouldn’t have money to feed their families or themselves.  Many of them have struggled under the weight of this hardening economy as well.  Perhaps they should give up their dreams of spreading the love these great animals and perhaps they should go to a nine-to-five job and forget about the animals who gave them joy and happiness.  I don’t think so, though.

We live in a country where we are told that, with hard work and a little elbow grease, we can own our own businesses, we can flourish, we can do what we love and be profitable at it.  Kevin McCurley, the owner of NERD(New England Reptile Distributors) and the author of The Complete Ball Python, has spent his life loving these animals, and now he has dozens of snakes that he can’t sell.  He and others even suggested an adoption/foster program for people who could not even care for their animals, except that if they crossed state lines they would be breaking the law under the Lacey Act.  There are hundreds of people just like him who are just trying to live their American dreams and who are just trying to support their families.

When you allow the government to be influenced by false information, by sensationalism, and by fear we lose our hold on this great nation.  This is just another step further down the road to losing our liberties, to having our homes invaded.  We should not punish the whole for the irresponsibility of the few.

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