Salazar Pushes for Ban on Importation of all Nine Large Constrictor Snake Species


Curbing Invasive Species “Vital to Protecting America’s Great Outdoors”


12/07/2009

 Date: December 7, 2009
Contact: Kendra Barkoff
(202) 208-6416

 WASHINGTON, DC – Recently returned from a visit to Florida and the Everglades, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today sent a letter to Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Kendrick Meeks reemphasizing his support for H.R. 2811 S.373 and recommending that the legislation be amended to ban the importation and trade of all nine large constrictor snake species considered invasive or potentially invasive in the United States, including the Burmese python.  

“The threat posed by the Burmese python and other large constrictor snakes is evident.  The Burmese python population estimate is now in the thousands—putting at risk a variety of threatened and endangered species and harming the Everglades ecosystem,” Secretary Salazar wrote, emphasizing that the Burmese python and other constrictors threaten the future of America’s great outdoors. “The Department is working with many partners to address the significant challenges posed by the invasive Burmese python and other large constrictor snakes.”

The Burmese python, a large exotic snake, is well-established in the Everglades.  Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and the Water Conservation Areas represent the core areas of the python infestation.
Among the world’s most effective predators, pythons are having negative impacts on native species in the Everglades ecosystem, and can potentially threaten other areas. Because of the serious threat posed by pythons, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the South Florida Water Management District, and many other partners are actively engaged in a large variety of potential python control efforts.

In the letter, Secretary Salazar also reemphasized his commitment to working with Senator Nelson and Congressman Meeks to address the threat of invasive species and to restore the ecosystem.

In June 2006, the Service received a request from the South Florida Water Management District to list Burmese pythons as an injurious species under the Lacey Act, which would ban importation and interstate transport of the species.  At the time the petition was submitted, no scientific information had been compiled on Burmese pythons that would enable a rigorous assessment of risk and potential impacts to the Everglades and other ecosystems.  As a result, in 2007 the Service partnered with the National Park Service to provide funds to U.S. Geological Survey for a risk assessment of nine large constrictor snake species considered invasive or potentially invasive in the United States.  

Of the nine large constrictor snakes assessed by U.S. Geological Survey, five were shown to pose a high risk to the health of the ecosystem, including the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python, yellow anaconda, and boa constrictor.  The remaining four large constrictors—the reticulated python, green anaconda, Beni or Bolivian anaconda, and DeSchauensee’s anaconda—were shown to pose a medium risk.  None of the large constrictors that were assessed was classified as low risk.