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posted: 9/24/2012 5:00 AM

Constrictor snakes should not be pets

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The 15-foot Burmese python found in Waukegan is not the first deadly constrictor snake captured in Illinois ("Giant Burmese python discovered near Waukegan Harbor," Sept. 18). In the last few years, pythons or boa constrictors have been found in DuPage County forest preserves, sunning themselves in a coffee shop parking lot, abandoned in Winnebago County and roaming loose in Chicago apartment buildings.

Constrictor snakes can attack suddenly and with deadly force, preying on experienced reptile handlers, unsuspecting people who encounter someone else's escaped or released constrictor snake, or children living in households where these snakes are kept, such as the Centralia infant who was killed by the family's 7-foot python in 1999. Taxpayers routinely foot the bill for costs related to escapes, attacks and confiscations as police and other emergency personnel must respond to incidents caused by irresponsible people who possess these dangerous predators.

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Large constrictor snakes are too dangerous to be kept as pets and require specialized care. A nationwide prohibition on the import or interstate transport of giant constrictor snakes is urgently needed to protect public safety and animal welfare.

In January 2012, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a ban on four species of large constrictor snakes that pose a significant risk to the environment, including Burmese pythons. Unfortunately, by banning only some species, the trade will simply shift to other deadly constrictor snakes popular in the pet trade, such as boa constrictors and reticulated pythons. HR 511, introduced by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. would add all nine species of large constrictor snakes to the list of injurious species under the Lacey Act. This bill has already passed the House Judiciary Committee. Concerned citizens should contacted their congressional representatives and ask them to co-sponsor HR 511.

Kristen Strawbridge

Illinois state director

The Humane Society of the United States

Chicago

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