FWC Chairman: Let's remain tough on pythons
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC) Chairman Rodney Barreto directed staff on Wednesday to
develop tough measures for dealing with pythons in South
"The state of Florida has taken the lead on this
issue," Barreto said. "We should be considering an outright ban. It
is paramount that we keep doing everything we can to keep these
animals out of the wild."
Barreto's comments came after the Commission
approved draft rules for reptiles of concern. Under the proposed
rule, all reptiles of concern would be required to be permanently
identified by a microchip when the animal reaches one inch in
diameter. Most reptiles of concern reach that length shortly after
birth. The current rule requires microchipping at two inches in
diameter for any reptile of concern, which includes Burmese
pythons, Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons
(northern and southern), amethystine or scrub pythons, green
anacondas and Nile monitor lizards.
Reptiles of concern must be licensed by the FWC's
Captive Wildlife Section in order to be kept as a pet. The license
costs $100 per year and mandates specific caging requirements as
well as requiring microchipping.
Col. Jim Brown, the FWC's director of the Division
of Law Enforcement, said the proposed change was recommended by the
Reptile of Concern Technical Assistance Group that has been meeting
since December. The group, made up of reptile experts, animal
rights advocates and FWC staff, concentrated its discussion on ways
to ensure all reptiles of concern can be identified. They also
recommended the 24/7 amnesty rule, which went into effect under
executive order in December and was approved as a draft rule on
Wednesday. As laid out in the executive order, licensed
reptile-of-concern owners may adopt unlicensed reptiles of concern
without penalty to prevent the illegal release of nonnative species
into the wild.
"The issues addressed by this group will help the
FWC in determining the best possible solutions for dealing with all
nonnative species in Florida," Brown said. "They will continue to
address the listing procedures so species can be removed or added
to the list of reptiles of concern as needed."
The FWC has instituted several programs to deal
with reptile-of-concern issues recently, including opening up the
take of reptiles of concern to hunters in specific wildlife
management areas in South Florida. Brown said current rules and
laws have drastically reduced the trade in reptiles of concern, but
it is time to consider stricter rules.