Perhaps if the federal Office of Management and Budget had its offices based in South Florida it would act with greater haste in approving a much-needed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule banning the importation and interstate trade of nonnative and deadly animals such as Burmese pythons, which have wreaked havoc throughout the state. The ban has received rare bipartisan support, especially among Florida's congressional delegation, yet the Obama administration has allowed this environmental threat to needlessly linger for three years. The ban should be approved immediately.
The latest graphic example of the need for the ban occurred just days ago in the Miami area when fire rescue officers were called to remove an aggressive 13-foot Burmese python from a family swimming pool. While such images may make for lighthearted filler on evening newscasts around the nation, they often fail to reflect the genuine threat these frequently abandoned reptiles pose to public safety. In 2009, after Sumter County 2-year-old Shaunia Hare was killed by a pet Burmese python owned by her parents, Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson introduced commonsense legislation for the Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the importation and trafficking of the snakes.
While the Office of Management and Budget inexplicably drags its feet to implement a ban on the pythons, despite the urging of Florida's congressional delegation, Mother Nature is apparently lending a helping hand. Last winter's unseasonable cold appears to have helped cull the python population for now. But that is no guarantee the pythons won't be able to continue to increase their dangerous presence across Florida.
It is reprehensible that irresponsible pet owners release Burmese pythons into the wild when they become too big to care for. But so too is the blind indifference from Washington bureaucrats whose inaction threatens public safety in Florida.