Snake bill filed
Posted by Miqe on March 22, 2007
A bill that would require owners of non-indigenous snakes to get a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was pulled from a House committee agenda this week in order to seek more public input, according to a spokeswoman for Rep. Harvey Hilderbran.Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, filed the bill last week. He said the bill would help regulate non-indigenous snakes in Texas and prevent the growth of a feral exotic snake population as has happened in Florida and other states.Non-indigenous snakes that would be required to be permitted under the bill include boa contractors, pythons, black mambas and cobras.“The goal of this bill is to protect public safety and prevent a feral population of constrictors from developing in this state,” Hilderbran said. “Texas should not wait around for the problems to develop as they have in Florida and California.”
House Bill 1309 would require owners of non-indigenous snakes, including constrictors, black mambas and cobras, to have a permit from Texas Parks and Wildlife. It would not make it illegal to own a non-indigenous snake.
Currently, Texas has no restrictions in place for a person importing a snake from a foreign country or releasing the snake into the wild, and some people seem to like it that way.
Chris Wagner of Bulverde said he does not think the bill will accomplish the goal of keeping non-indigenous snakes from the wild.
“Responsible, educated snake owners who would be forced to acquire a permit are already well aware of the consequences of releasing an invasive species into an unprepared environment. Naturally, they would rather give their pet a welcome home rather than release it,” Wagner said. “However, the irresponsible, uneducated minority whom the bill targets is not likely to bother applying with something they are not serious about, rendering them with few options, the worst being releasing their pet to avoid the license fee.”
Hilderbran said the bill has been postponed while an advisory group led by David Barker of Uvalde works on an amendment. Hilderbran said he expects the bill to come back to the committee before the end of the session.
“The people who are objecting to it are mostly people who are afraid that we are going to hurt their business and affect their livelihood. People that are in the public who agree with me don’t feel that motivated to show up and talk about it,” Hilderbran said.
Under the current bill, research facilities and anti-venom production facilities or labs will be exempt from the permit requirement.