EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 23, 2012

Federal snake ban has reptile dealers fuming

Kevin McCurley has about 20 snakes he's not sure what he will do with.

Thanks to a new federal ban, four kinds of pythons and anacondas can no longer be sold across state lines.

Blame Florida, where Burmese pythons have become a serious problem in parts of the Everglades. That prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the Burmese python, the yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons. Those snakes can no longer be imported or sold across state lines.

That leaves McCurley, owner of Zoo Creatures and New England Reptile Distributors in Plaistow, in a bit of a bind.

"I have about 20 Burmese pythons and yellow anacondas," he said. "I have snakes now that I can't sell. It's really hurting my business and I'm already struggling with the economy."

It's a ban that makes no sense in the Northeast, he said.

"They have a problem in southern Florida with Burmese pythons and they're treating it as a national threat, which is silly," McCurley said. "These animals have no chance of surviving in New Hampshire. If you let them go right now in the winter, they would only last an hour."

An environmental problem in Florida should not have resulted in a nationwide ban, according to McCurley and others.

"If someone travels to Massachusetts with their pet snake, that would be a federal crime," he said. "It is affecting thousands of people and we're losing our rights."

Alan LaFreniere, owner of Fins and Feathers in Chelmsford, doesn't sell those particular snakes, but he still thinks the regulation is too much.

"I think it's a little over the top by making a national ban," he said. "If there's a threat in that state, then they should ban it. But wild pythons will never be a problem in Massachusetts."

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