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Owners and Dealers of Anacondas Sue to Reverse Florida’s Broad Ban on Invasive Snake

| June 13, 2019

An anaconda's 15 minutes of fame. (Florida Fish and Wildlife)

An anaconda’s 15 minutes of fame. (Florida Fish and Wildlife)

Owners and dealers of anacondas have launched a legal challenge after the state largely banned the snakes amid a struggle to control damaging invasive species.

An administrative law judge is scheduled to hold a hearing July 1 in the case, which targets a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rule that took effect in May and added a series of animals — ranging from anacondas to meerkats and flying foxes — to a list of “prohibited non-native species.”

The rule generally allows the prohibited species to be kept only for research or exhibition purposes, though it includes an exception for people who had the animals as pets before the change took effect. Those people can obtain permits to keep possession until the animals die.

But the rule bars selling or buying the animals in Florida, spurring the challenge from 12 anaconda owners and dealers who live in various areas of the state. In part, they argue that the commission didn’t properly compile what is known as a “Statement of Estimated Regulatory Costs” that would show the financial impact of the rule on small businesses.

“As a result of the adoption of the rule prohibiting possession of the reptile species, petitioners will suffer not only losses in revenue from the breeding, trade and sale of the anacondas but also the fruits of their research, taxonomy work, conservation and education efforts,” the challenge said. “The rule’s requirement that Floridians end all breeding programs and cease possession of any reptile species deprives petitioners of the expected economic benefit of raising them to maturity and selling offspring, as well as effectively extinguishes current and future sales, research, conservation and educational plans.”

The rule is part of a broader effort by the state to limit invasive species that can harm Florida wildlife, an issue that has drawn particular attention because of pythons in the Everglades.

Anacondas are found in South America, and the rule affects possession and sale of three types: yellow anaconda, Beni anaconda and DeSchauensee’s anaconda, according to the commission. A 2010 state law barred the possession and sale of green anaconda and pythons.

While it had not filed legal arguments at the state Division of Administrative Hearings as of Thursday morning, the commission last month pointed to a need to prevent invasive species from becoming established in the state.

“Our native fish and wildlife are facing a serious threat posed by various invasive species found throughout the state,” Kipp Frohlich, director of the commission’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, said in a prepared statement. “This new rule will help prevent those species on the prohibited list from becoming the next Burmese python.”

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9 Responses for “Owners and Dealers of Anacondas Sue to Reverse Florida’s Broad Ban on Invasive Snake”

  1. herpetologist says says:

    Thats sure one funny looking Anaconda. Pretty sure the photo is of a reticulated python.

  2. palmcoaster says:

    What a ridiculous lawsuit! So fed up of these nonsense imports and and then release in the woods when can no longer handle the beast!! All these invasive species allowed inn just in the name of greedy profits. Stick to the ban! Pretty soon we will see these monsters all around our communities as well.

  3. WOW uneducated says:

    Not a Reticulated Python Not an Anaconda…That would be a Burmese Python getting its 15 minutes of fame. Palmcoaster you are way off base. Do some research and see what exactly happened. As far as monsters all around us…How about you speak to the people that live in their home range…And better yet how about all the invasive plants and trees choking out our native species….Or cats and dogs? should we ban them too….How about invasive fish? The list goes on…..

  4. Agkistrodon says:

    Yeah cause what we need are Bigger Snakes……………..Breeders are the PRIMARY reason why we have a problem with Pythons now. Leave those Anacondas where they belong, unless of course you are okay with me owning an emotional support Hyena………………And taking it everywhere.

  5. Mr G says:

    Floridas native species a lot of them are being destroyed by these snakes. they have no natural enemies in the Glades so they don’t belong ….. kill them all to hell with dealers profits & of course the idiots who own them as pets then wen they grow so big they just let them go free that’s bullcrap….

  6. Snake breeder says:

    Wow. Support hyena? Bringing it where you want? Ignorant to current laws….i have large constrictors, the state comes to make sure they are tagged amd under lock and key. It isnt like we can bring snakes wherever we want. Hell fwc told me its illegal to walk down my street with a small python (ball python) without a class 3 for exhibition. Please read up on a topic before being outraged.

  7. Agkistrodon says:

    @Snake Breeder. Hurricane Andrew, enough said. Your little locks and keys are NOTHING.

  8. Richard says:

    Snake Breeder – please explain why Florida is now overrun with non-indigenous snakes, mainly Burmese Pythons? I could care less about people who want to own and breed snakes providing that they STAY confined and restricted to the owners residence. However, there are a lot of stupid inconsiderate people in this world and it seems that most of them reside in Florida.

  9. Anthony says:

    As an educator in large constrictor snakes, I really don’t mind people voicing their opinions on matters, as long as they have done their research. However, it amazes me how much misinformation is out there and how many people with so little knowledge are the ones with the most to say. The snake in the picture is a Burmese Python, not an Anaconda. The Burmese Python population in Florida is not the result of people letting them go. It is the result of hurricane Andrew leveling a research facility in Homestead, Florida in 1991, which released 943 of them into the Everglades. This was not the act of amateur individuals having pets that got too big to keep. These animals are now highly regulated by the FWC. As for Yellow Anacondas, there are estimated to be less than 50 of them in the entire State of Florida. Even the FWC has no data to support the ruling in regards to Yellow Anacondas being able to become an invasive species because they don’t know how many there are; who has them; or where they are at. As for misinformation, the FWC would have you believe they did “Extensive Research” into determining that these species may become an invasive species. The fact is, the FWC has no data supporting their claim. Proof of this is that the FWC added Beni anacondas and DeSchauenee’s anacondas to the prohibited list when there are no known snakes of either species in the entire United States. In fact, there are only two references to these species anywhere in the United States, and those were in books back in 1943. How does this become “substantial research”? Most of us in the herp business believe that these two species are Unicorns (mythical creatures that have never existed). In fact, there have been more reports of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra, in multiple publications and movies, so should we “Ban” them also? Even if a Yellow Anaconda were to escape in Miami, one in Tampa, one in Jacksonville, etc., the chances of them being male and female and getting together to become an invasive species would be astronomically miniscule. We, as law abiding permit holders, are subject to mandatory inspections and data, to make sure that we are complying with all FWC regulations regarding these snakes. One of the main issues here is that if the FWC can randomly and selectively place a “Ban” on any non-native exotic species, they can do so to any and all non-native animals. That means birds, turtles, fish, chinchillas, ferrets, etc.

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