It stretched nearly 18 feet long and weighed 150 pounds, and it surprised even water management district workers accustomed to encountering all sorts exotic animals around the Everglades. The Burmese python the maintenance workers encountered this week did not even set a state record for size. But it was a big reminder that the Obama administration should extend its trade ban on large exotic snake species.
A wider federal trade ban on these nonnative snakes that have infested the Everglades would help control a problem that taxpayers are spending millions to address. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service already bans the trade of four species: the Indian python (which includes the Burmese python like the one found this week); Northern and Southern African pythons; and yellow anacondas. But the service failed to ban five other species — including other pythons, anacondas and boa constrictors — after being pressured by reptile dealers to leave them out. Those five species just happen to account for two-thirds of the trade of large constrictor snakes.
These large snakes have no place as pets. They are a threat to small children, pets and other small animals. Now 18 members of Congress, including several from South Florida, have written to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking that the wildlife service extend the ban to the five exotic species that were left out the first time. This is an issue of public safety, environmental preservation — and common sense. South Florida is wild enough without an invasion of exotic killer snakes, and the wildlife service should extend the ban.