Snakes alive! Scott supports Salazar snake sanctionby Dara Kam | January 17th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott supports U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar‘s ban on the importation of Burmese pythons and three other non-native constrictive snakes, the governor said this afternoon.
MSNBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd asked Scott and Salazar about the snake ban at an Everglades Summit in Tallahassee this afternoon.
“People laugh about this but…it’s crazy,” said Todd, a Miami native. “This issue of my idiot old neighbors in South Florida. They import these pets then get scared of them and dump them in the Everglades.”
The pythons are “injurious and they are dangerous,” Salazar said.
Salazar said the python ban is part of a comprehensive approach to cleaning up the Everglades.
“We need to make sure the investments that we’re making…that they’re not for naught,” he said.
The invasive snakes are killing native habitat and wildlife, Salazar said.
“We need to make sure that what we are doing is comprehensive,” he said. “We need to look at the Everglades as an entire ecosystem.”
Critics said Salazar’s ban doesn’t go far enough because he only targeted four of nine dangerous snakes.
“We tailored our regulation to go after the present danger that we have in the Everglades and right now it’s the Burmese python, which is making up habitat with tens of thousands of Burmese pythons that are out there,” Salazar said after the meeting.
Salazar said his agency his “going after those species that present the greatest threat right now” and that five other species are being scrutinized scientifically and for the economic implications of banning those as well.
“But these four are the first step and we have the other five under consideration,” he said.
Scott said he supports the new federal rule, especially because Congress has failed for three years to pass U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s legislation that would have outlawed pythons.
“These giant constrictor snakes do not belong in the Everglades and they do not belong in people’s back yards. Not only are they upsetting the ecological balance because they’re at the top of the food chain. They even attack alligators and consume them,” Nelson said.
Nelson gave a gory description of how the snakes kill and digest their prey, using examples of a python that was found with a deer inside it and another that killed an endangered wood rat from Key Largo.
“You can imagine the constricting power to suffocate and squeeze their prey to death. How do you think that 76-pound, full-grown doe deer got inside the snake? Their jaws expand. They bring in the entire prey whole. And then in their body secretes acidic solutions that break down all of the components including the bones of the animals,” Nelson said this morning in Miami.
The pythons are putting endangered species at risk, Nelson said.
“Why this has taken as long as it has with people fighting us is a mystery,” he said.