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US wildlife officials propose limiting snake trade

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm •  Published: July 23, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal wildlife officials recently proposed strict nationwide limits on importing and shipping boa constrictors and four other snake species in an effort to prevent them from being introduced into the wild.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would prohibit bringing the snakes into the country and shipping them between states except for scientific and educational purposes. The rules would also apply to reticulated python, green anaconda, Beni anaconda and DeSchauensee's anaconda.

Most of the snakes enter the U.S. as pets, the agency said. Many are released by owners when they grow too big, and other pet snakes escape from inadequately secured pens.

The agency set similar rules for four other snake species two years ago. It considered imposing the rules on the five species now up for consideration, but ended up leaving them off the list.

In January, 18 House members signed a bipartisan letter asking the Obama administration to add the five snakes to the ban.

The snakes pose an "unacceptable and preventable risk" to human safety and have severely damaged native ecosystems, the letter said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the issue for public comment last month and is accepting input through Thursday. The agency will consider the comments and make a final decision.

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