House Natural Resources Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Python Bill

By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

A House Natural Resources subcommittee held a hearing late November on a bill that would prohibit the importation of various species of constrictor snakes.  Several of these snake species have been a major concern to the people living near the Florida Everglades because they can negatively impact wildlife and the environment.

Chairman John Fleming (R-La.), expressed his concern for the impact that the legislation will have on small business owners:

“Let me say at the outset that I compliment my colleagues from the Florida delegation for their tireless commitment to restoring the Florida Everglades. But I have concerns that H.R. 511 will end up destroying hundreds of small businesses without providing any real benefit to the Everglades.”

Peter Jenkins, a member of the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species, countered the chairman’s argument by focusing on the urgency of the issue at hand. “The current and potential risk these massive constricting non-native snakes pose is beyond reasonable doubt, given the high likelihood that if further unregulated imports and interstate commerce occur, these snakes will continue to be released by irresponsible pet owners and will continue to be able to establish harmful breeding populations throughout significant areas in the southern portion of the nation and in our vulnerable island territories too,” Jenkins said.

Though the AVMA is aware of the potential risks and impacts associated with the release of non-native snakes into the wild, the association has taken a position of “no action” on this legislation. The AVMA believes that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should set prohibitions on the species in accordance with their normal procedural review and risk assessments.

After the November hearing, the House Natural Resources Committee discharged the bill from further consideration, which means it is now available for a vote in the full House of Representatives.  At the time of this writing, no vote had been scheduled.

A webcast of the hearing is available here.

 For more information, contact Dr. Whitney Miller at wmiller@avma.org.

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