The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has recently announced the addition of four large species of snake to the restricted import list.

On Friday, March 6, FWS declared that the Beni anaconda, green anaconda, DeSchauensee's anaconda and reticulated python as "injurious" under the Lacey Act. The FWS also said that the boa constrictor has been removed from the list as an injurious wildlife species.

The Lacey Act prohibits the import, export, buying, selling or acquisition of wildlife and plant species named on the list.

The ban is mainly intended to restrict the spread of the four snake species in the wild. The new rule is estimated to be published in the Federal Register on March 10. The ban will come into effect 30 days after the publication. The prohibition will apply to individuals as well as their eggs or hybrids.

"Large constrictor snakes are costing the American public millions of dollars in damage and placing at risk 41 federally and state-listed threatened or endangered species in Florida alone," said Dan Ashe, director of the FWS.

Ashe also said that the latest ban will stop humans from contributing to the spread of these snakes in the wild.

A few years back, the agency implemented a ban on the Burmese python, a snake species that is native to Souteast Asia. The Burmese python is believed to have been let loose in Florida in the 1980s, and the species soon found its way to the Everglades and its population increased exponentially in the last few decades.

The Burmese python is quite large and it does not have many predators, barring humans and alligators. It is believed to feed upon local prey, possibly reducing their population. Studies are already underway to understand the impact of Burmese pythons on the population of animals in the Everglades.

The FWS revealed that the green anaconda and reticulated python are considered two of the largest snake species in the world. Both snakes are also traded commercially and kept as pets by many people. On some occasions, the snakes escape from their enclosures, while others are sometimes intentionally released by their owners. Even though a very small number of these snake species has been discovered in the wild, these species are a risk to local wildlife.

The DeSchauensee's and Beni anacondas are not found in the U.S. The FWS stated that it has prohibited the import of these two snake species in order to prevent any future problems, such as the one arising from the Burmese pythons.

Photo: Kieran Palmer | Flickr

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