This photograph of a Burmese python comes from the Web site of Everglades National Park in Florida.

Nine Snake Species Proposed as Injurious Wildlife

If the listing is finalized, Burmese pythons, boa constrictors, and the other species could not be imported except by permit for scientific, medical, educational, or zoological purposes, nor could they be moved in interstate transportation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed last Friday to add nine constrictor snake species, including Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, boa constrictors, and yellow and green anacondas, to the list of injurious reptiles, which would prohibit the importation of any live animal, gamete, viable egg, or hybrid into the United States except by permit for scientific, medical, educational, or zoological purposes, and also would prohibit their interstate transportation. While FWS will accept comments on the proposal until May 11, it already received 1,528 comments during a 2008 public comment period held after the South Florida Water Management District in 2006 requested that Burmese pythons be considered for the list.

Some of these are giant snakes growing to more than 20 feet in length, and some of the species, including Burmese pythons, are already established in South Florida. FWS wants to stop them from becoming established in new areas where the climate suits them, such as far south Texas. Five of the species have been reported in the wild in Puerto Rico.

The number of Burmese pythons caught and removed from Everglades National Park in Florida and nearby areas has grown steadily since 2000, with 1,334 of these snakes removed during 2000-2009, according to the park's online annual tally. Park officials say the number being caught probably represent only a fraction of the total population of Burmese pythons in the area.

These nine species mainly enter the United States through the commercial trade in pets and mainly arrive through Miami, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco before being transported to animal dealers, who then deliver the snakes to pet retailers, according to FWS. But the species now established in the wild, threatening native species, got there initially by being intentionally released by their owners or escaping, in some cases, the agency says.

To comment on the proposed listing, visit www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015.

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