Obama administration announces ban on the import of Burmese pythons, other constrictor reptiles

EVERGLADES, Fla. -- The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the ban on the import of Burmese pythons and three other non-native, large constrictor snakes.

Inter Secretary Ken Salazar is to hold a news conference Tuesday off Tamiami Trail in the Everglades to announce the decision.

Also banned are the yellow anaconda and the northern and southern African pythons.

The decision represents a retreat from the original proposal under consideration by the administration which would have banned the import of nine large constrictors.

"The Burmese python has already gained a foothold in the Florida Everglades, and we must do all we can to battle its spread and to prevent further human contributions of invasive snakes that cause economic and environmental damage," Salazar said in a press release.

The reptile industry had mounted a high pressure lobbying and public relations campaign to derail the ban, holding up action for years as the administration wrangled internally over the proposal.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will continue to consider listing as injurious five other species of non-native snakes:  the reticulated python, boa constrictor, DeSchauensee's anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda.

Pythons are thought to have arrived in the Everglades via two routes: As pets released by owners who no longer wanted a large and growing snake in the house and by Hurricane Andrew destroying breeding facilities.

Pythons consume native wildlife and compete with native predators. One was found to have consumed a full-grown deer. A recent study suggests that they're sufficiently tolerant of salt water to swim to the Florida Keys, where several pythons have been captured.

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