Ahead of a second wave of hunting permits for pythons and other problematic reptiles, state wildlife officials are extending a pet amnesty program. The program allows owners of Burmese pythons and other non-native reptiles to turn them in to the state with no questions asked.
The amnesty program starts this week. It includes such reptiles as Burmese pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hopes the program will prevent owners from releasing the illegal reptiles into the wild to avoid prosecution.
It’s estimated thousands of pythons are living in the wild in South Florida, many of them former pets released by their owners when they got too big. Burmese pythons can live 25 years or longer; females lay clutches of 12–36 eggs each year.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Tim Breault says it’s a tough decision for owners because they usually have a strong emotional attachment to their pet snakes. “This is part of being responsible pet owners and we understand that people can’t care for some of these animals and don’t want to see them destroyed or killed and we see this as an alternative to turning them loose out in the wild where you can put them back into care for them for the rest of their life.”
The state has hosted amnesty events at zoos and other locations in the past, but now anyone will be able to turn in the reptiles at any time to wildlife experts who hold reptile of concern permits.
The state is preparing to issue new hunting permits in January for reptiles of concern in the wild. The first phase of the python hunting program captured 39 Burmese pythons on state-managed lands between July and October.
Article via CBS4 | 14 December 2009 |