Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ban Constrictors?

"What would it cost to eradicate Python, Boa or Eunectes individuals or populations, or similar species, if found?" asks Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks [FR Doc. E8–1770 Filed 1–30–08; 8:45 am].

The Fish and Wildlife agency is using the threat of a nationwide ban, on the import and interstate transport of such reptiles, to motivate a public response, both pro and con. This way, the government need not sponsor any scientific studies itself, need only rely on biased feedback coming from affected parties.

Presumably the mostly urban pet store owners will push back, claiming the vast majority of their stock stays within the "virtual zoo" of a pet owner's environment, while feral snakes in the sewers actually serve on the front lines, holding down a disease-bearing rat population, taking the fight to where they live.

Rural farmers may know differently however, as one sheep after another is picked off by some boas gone wild, rampaging through the outback. Prairie dogs may soon be an endangered species.

The deadline for a public response is April 30. Uncle Sam wants a list of all pro-constrictor people handy, just in case that position proves unAmerican in some way, in which case Homeland Security might be on your case as a snake owner in violation of the Lacey Act.

Burmese pythons on the loose in Florida's Everglades are of special concern. Is a nationwide ban the best answer?