Senate bill S 373 could destroy a growing $3 billion a year industry and cause grief for pet owners everywhere, by banning the import, export and interstate transport of nine python, boa and anaconda species.

Some large pythons are establishing populations in the Everglades, and fear of these animals has been exacerbated by the recent death of a Florida toddler.

Invasive pythons are a problem, but banning transport nationally is ridiculous. These tropical species could never establish a breeding population in states reaching temperatures below 60 degrees or in arid climates like Arizona.

This ban would include the three largest python species, all anaconda species and the boa constrictor, one of the most popular pet snakes. There has never been a confirmed human fatality blamed on this species.

Large pythons can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but responsible owners take almost excessive precautions. Those behind this bill would include many other species if they had their way. The original write-up encompassed all pythons, including the ball python, a small harmless species that is by far the most popular pet snake.

There have been 12 python-related deaths in the United States since 1980, yet dogs kill 30 people a year. Pythons are invading Florida while feral cats are disturbing habitats worldwide.

If these same measures targeted dogs and cats, the public uproar would be tremendous. Instead they’re attacking a fringe group of pet owners, and there’s a very real danger that this bill will fly under the public’s radar.

Katie Harness, LeRoy

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