Federal and state officials were in Miami Tuesday to announce rules banning the importation of pythons and other non-native snakes that have been plaguing the Everglades.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and Sen. Bill Nelson gathered along the Tamiami Trail to make the python announcement, which bans Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons.
Though nine snakes had been on the proposed ban Salazar said they decided on just those four species because they "create the greatest danger."
"The Everglades is a special place on our planet," Salazar said, adding that it was his 10th trip there.
Wildlife officials say the number of non-native Burmese pythons has been growing in recent years. The invasive species, which can grow to over 25 feet long and 200 pounds are a threat to local wildlife.
"These giant constrictor snakes do not belong in the Everglades," Nelson said.
The reptiles are believed to have found their way into the wild after being released by pet owners who didn't want to care for the animals or abandoned them after they grew too large.
Congressman David Rivera, whose district principally includes the Everglades, said Tuesday that he welcomed the announcement, but said it did not go far enough.
"There are five additional species of snakes; the reticulated python, the green anaconda, the Beni or Bolivian python, the DeSchauensee’s anaconda and the boa constrictor, that pose an equally large threat to our local ecology, wildlife and residents, and should likewise be banned," Rivera said in a statement. "These dangerous, predatory species are allowed to establish themselves and wreak havoc on our native wildlife, counteracting efforts and wasting precious resources to restore the Everglades. I continue to call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list all nine species of constrictor snakes as prohibited injurious species under the Lacey Act for the good of South Florida’s environment and the safety of our people.”
Later Tuesday, Salazar will travel to Tallahassee for an Everglades Water Supply Summit, with Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture, and Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
On Wednesday, Salazar, Ashe and Nelson will be in Haines City to make an announcement regarding the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area.
The visit is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to reconnect Americans with the outdoors.