Bid to curb nationwide snake sales stalls, swallowed by White House bureaucracy

Miami HeraldDecember 27, 2011 

When Burmese pythons began slithering across Everglades levees in increasingly alarming numbers, state water managers petitioned the federal government to crack down on the pet trade’s sale of the giant snakes.

In the five years since, a string of studies, congressional hearings, articles and nature shows — not to mention bad sci-fi movies — have painted the python as a monstrous ecological menace that threatened to spread to other states.

But the proposal to ban the import and interstate sale of Burmese pythons and eight other large exotic snakes has stalled, swallowed up in White House bureaucracy for nearly a year. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has written letters urging the Obama administration to approve the snake ban — among them, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson last month, Tampa-area Republican Rep. Bill Young this month and Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen last week.

Despite the pressure, the effort to declare the snakes “injurious species’’ through a cumbersome administrative process called the Lacey Act remains in doubt. The proposal has been buffeted by surging anti-regulatory fervor in Washington and scientific controversy over whether the snakes really pose much of a risk beyond South Florida.

The fact that the snakes acquired lobbyists may explain a few things as well.

The U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, backed by a small but passionate group of snake breeders and collectors and a New York law firm, has mounting a campaign shrewdly positioning the python restrictions as “job-killing’’ federal red tape based on shaky science.

Read the full story on MiamiHerald.com

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service