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Humane Society: Snake bill needs sharper fangs

The Humane Society of the United States is thanking the House Judiciary Committee for passing a bill to prohibit the importation and transport of Burmese pythons and African rock pythons -- but it says the proposal -- introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek -- has been weakened and "more needs to be done." The society notes the original bill would have banned additional species of deadly snakes -- not just two.

It says interests supporting the commercial pet trade worked with lawmakers to "weaken the bill and dramatically gut important provisions." 

 “The Humane Society of the United States commends Chairman Conyers and the Judiciary Committee for addressing the urgent need to stop the trade in large constrictor snakes as pets,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “As the bill moves forward we hope the Congress will take a more comprehensive approach and prohibit the trade in other species that pose similar threats. By prohibiting only two species, Congress would be addressing only a portion of the problem.”

The society wants the legislation to include a ban on the import and interstate trade of reticulated pythons, amethystine pythons and anacondas.

"H.R. 2811 takes a proactive approach by establishing policy to prevent Burmese pythons from spreading to other parts of the country and to block African rock pythons from being introduced," the society says. "However, by covering only these two species, the trade can move to other large constrictors."

Meek in a release said the full House is expected to vote on the bill in September after summer recess.

He called it a "sensible environmental and public safety measure."

 “Invasive snakes, particularly Burmese Pythons, have devastated Florida’s delicate ecosystem and represent a major public safety threat," he said. "Banning the import of these dangerous foreign species moves us one step closer to eliminating this danger once and for all.”