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Volume xviii, Issue 8 ~ February 25 - March 3, 2010

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Creature Feature

Sen. Benjamin Cardin
squeezes constrictors

by Diana Beechener

As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin gets to know some strange critters.

Among them are nine large constrictor snake species — including the Burmese python — that he and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar want to ban.

When introduced to our ecosystem — through release or escape — these species put the squeeze on our environment by feeding on local wildlife.

The ban would amend the title 18 U.S. Code to include four species of python, four species of anaconda and the boa constrictor to the list of slithering dangers to local ecosystems. Violators would face fines and up to six months imprisonment for importation and interstate transportation of the reptiles.

Reptile lovers and breeders may hiss at the loss of the exotic imports, but the ban seeks to scale down snake infestations across the country. In the Everglades, an estimated 10,000 to 100,000 Burmese pythons have overrun the wetlands. The original invaders of this ecosystem are believed to be pets that grew too large for their homes. Constrictors in Florida have been reported attacking local wildlife and local house pets.

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