The Burmese Python Scam
Can you imagine the feds making the interstate transport of your family dog a federal offense. This is exactly what has happened to millions of reptile owners in the United States. The US Fish & Wildlife decided to restrict four species of large constrictors under the LACEY Act. The Burmese Python, Northern and Southern African Rock Pythons, and the Yellow Anaconda. Now if an owner of one of these species carries them across state lines they are subject to a $250,000 fine and prison.
The Banning of The Burmese Python
So how did this come about? Well most of us have heard the stories of the Burmese Python invasion in the Everglades National Park. We’ve the shows on the History and Discovery channels about monster snakes in the swamp. The sensationalism of this situation has allowed members of congress and the animal rights movement to aggressively pursue this ban. Initially US Fish & Wildlife estimated the population of Burmese Pythons in the Everglades to be 1-3K. In one year’s time that estimate increased to 10,000 then to 30,000 and then finally to 100,000 or more. Wow! That’s some pretty good reproduction. Yet the US Fish & Wildlife Service only finds an approximately 350 Burmese Pythons in the Everglades each year. How can that be with these numbers? According to the USF&W Service they are to elusive to be found!
Some things don’t add up here. With all the resources at their disposal they only find 350 Burmese Pythons each year? So how did they come up with their population estimate? Is there a financial incentive behind this? The first answer is who knows. The second is that by declaring the Burmese Python as an invasive species USF&W receives funding to combat the problem. This could add up to billions of dollars if they play their cards right. Most of which will not be spent on the Everglades.
Other Key Players
The US Geological Service (USGS) wrote the book on large constrictors, as misguided as it was. They are the folks who determined that the Burmese Python would invade the lower 1/3 of the United States as well as the east coast all the way to Connecticut. Now if you know anything about the Burmese Python you realize that this is a tropical snake that requires a wet habitat. This is why they thrive in the Everglades. Why in the world would one think that they could survive in the deserts of the southwest or in the frigid temperatures of the northeast? Well for starters they skewed they’re data so that the climates match. They included data from the range of the Indian Python which is not found in the US as it is on the extinction list. They also included a high altitude mountain range in Asia, because two specimens were found in a valley at the north end of the range. Of course one specimen was found dead in a parking lot and the other was preserved. In a city of 5 million people one would anticipate a few pet Burmese pythons would be present accounting for these dead animals.
The perplexing part of the determination that USGS made is that the Reticulated Python (another large constrictor) shares the same range as both the Burmese Python and the Indian Python. Why then is their predicted range isolated to the Everglades. So is the Burmese Python just a super snake or is funding the source of this indiscretion?
The USGS was put in charge of the eradication of Brown Tree Snake on the Island of Guam. This snake was brought to the island by our military and as it has no predator it flourished. I flourished to the point that it has devastated the songbird and small mammal populations of the island. They are everywhere. The USGS was given $100,000,000.00 to handle the problem so why did they fail? They used the monies to fund other projects. In fact, the USF&W Service spent less than $500,000.00 on the problem. Thinking about this, if they would have put a $10 bounty on Brown Tree Snakes I guarantee there wouldn’t be many left.
If this track record holds true, USGS will be the benefactor of millions of US dollars that will not be spent on the Burmese Python, but will fund other USGS projects. As Florida has already banned the ownership of the Burmese Python, and recent cold studies prove that they are isolated to the southern tip of Florida I guess we can afford to waste millions of dollars on a fake invasion.
Another player in this farce has been the animal rights groups. They have come up with all sorts of numbers to prove that the Burmese Python is a danger to the American people. They pull newspaper articles from years gone by to instill fear in the American people. It’s easy to make people fear big, scary, snakes. Let’s look at the numbers.
There are approximately the same number of large constrictors in private ownership as there are horses. Yet large constrictors account for one death every other year. Horses account for hundreds of deaths each year. Dogs kill appx. 30 people every year and cause serious injury to 800,000 more, mostly children. In fact, you are more likely to be killed by an angry cow than you are by a large constrictor in the US.
So where does this leave us. Our government seeks to shut down a $104,000,000.00 Python industry that supports thousands of reptile breeders in the US. They want to fund the eradication of this invasive species, an invasion that is isolated to southern most Florida. Whom I might add has already addressed the problem. And last but not least our government is kowtowing to the animal rights movement, which makes up less than 3% of all Americans.
And we wonder why our country is in financial distress!
- Pet Reptiles - A Buyer's Guide
Reptiles can make wonderful pets. They are beautiful, diverse, and for the most part easy to maintain.