In the United States we’re facing a critical time in regards to pythons. You see, there is a move to ban all pythons. It’s not new but it has really picked up steam since
that 2 year old girl was killed in Florida by the Burmese python at the beginning of July (2009). Our legislature is on the verge of considering HR2811, a bill to ban all pythons in the United States that if passed as written would effectively end the keeping of pythons by private individuals. Not just certain sized pythons, or certain species of pythons, but all pythons. From the Burmese and the Reticulated python to the Ball and the Children’s python. Every single on of them.
There are a lot of people advocating contacting your representatives and the representatives of the committee that will be considering the bill. I totally agree. What I’m having trouble with is the all or nothing approach some people are wanting to take. A growing number of people have the opinion that our main advocacy group, USARK, has sold them out because they are asking for a change in the language of the bill that is going to be considered. In short they (USARK) are encouraging everyone to demand that only the import of Burmese pythons be regulated. Which to me makes perfect sense. For a few reasons.
- There is no shortage of captive bred Burmese pythons
- I’ve not had the time to do the research in regards to the exact numbers but I’m 100 percent confident that the pet industry isn’t going to run out of Burmese pythons. If that were the case, if there were so few of them out there in the United States, they wouldn’t be trying to cull them in Florida. Those snakes didn’t swim across the ocean to get to southern Florida. No one had to import them just to turn them lose. They were, as The Boss would sing, “Born in the USA”
- Someone is going to have to bite the bullet
- When a 2 year old kid was killed it became a foregone conclusion that someone was going to take a hit. It’s all about politics and unfortunately her death came at a really bad time for the Burmese python (Anytime is a bad time for someone to get killed, but my point is to do with legislation in case you’re thinking I’m implying something I’m not). See on June 10th, approximately 20 days before she was killed, Kendrick Meeks introduced HR2811 to the House of Representatives. Similar bills have been introduced (such as HR669) but gained no traction because the politicians didn’t have a face to pin a statistic on to support a ban. Now they have the face of 2 year old Shaiunna Hare to put along side this new bill. And less than a month after it happened this is still a “fresh wound” for them to exploit for political gain. The American people who prior to this happening wouldn’t have cared on way or another are all to aware of what happened. We can thank the media for that fact. Had this been an adult, or even a teen it would have made the sidebar for one print/broadcast and that’s all you would have heard about it.
- If the bill passes as it is written it’s all over
- Don’t think there’s any reason to explain this aside from saying that if they ban all pythons there’s no turning back. There’s no fighting another day. If all they can ban is the import of these animals they’ve gained nothing. They’ve been able to flex a little political muscle but in reality they’ve been kept in check.
On a final note I don’t believe this is a federal issue. It’s a state issue. Some might have heard or seen me say that before and personally I believe that the state level is where this should be handled. If pythons could potentially spread throughout the US like some other invasive species then I could see our Congress getting involved but as it is they can’t. Because they can’t I’m of the opinion that the few states they can survive in should handle it within their own legal system and not burden everyone else with this mess.
I’d be interested to hear what others think about this issue. Am I wrong to believe that it’s better to let them ban the import of a single species than to risk wiping the entire trade out? Am I wrong to think that this is a state issue and not a federal issue?