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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

Snake owners have protested the rules. A federal lawsuit filed in December by the North Carolina-based United States Association of Reptile Keepers said the proposal to ban all nine snake species would cost the reptile industry tens of millions of dollars.

Boa constrictors are already established in south Florida. Warmer parts of the U.S., including parts of Florida, southern Texas, Hawaii and island territories also have hospitable climates for snakes, federal wildlife officials said.

Importing any type of snake to Hawaii is already illegal under state law. Even so, about 10 snakes are found in the islands each year. In November, a live, 2 ½-foot-long rainbow boa constrictor was found on a sidewalk in Honolulu's Chinatown.

Snakes aren't native to Hawaii and do not have any natural predators in the islands. Officials fear they could prey on native birds, most of which are endangered, if they were to become established in Hawaii.

Christy Martin, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, said federal rules would further discourage people from bringing snakes to the islands.