How’d you like to be the 911 dispatcher who got that call?
This Ohio woman had moved the 5 ½ foot Boa Constrictor to her home recently, and apparently it wasn’t happy there. It wrapped itself around her neck and began biting her nose.
Cleve Wootson’s recent story in the Washington Post reported that the first responders had to cut off the snake’s head to rescue the woman. They reported that there was “blood everywhere.” Yikes!
Wootson reported that Born Free, a group that advocates against owning exotic animals including snakes, documented more than 471 attacks by “pet” snakes between 1995 and 2013. Double Yikes!
You might be surprised to know that anyone in Maine can possess a boa constrictor without a permit, nor do they have to let their neighbors or anyone else know when their snake escapes.
Imagine finding a 5-foot boa constrictor on your porch. That’s what happened to a Biddeford resident in June. Or how would you like to have been the couple in Veazie who woke up to a shocking surprise slithering around in their shower: a 3-foot-long ball python? The python’s owner acknowledged that the python escaped its tank a month earlier. And did you hear about the Fairfield apartment owner who discovered a 3 ½ foot python trying to eat her pet parakeets?
I tried to fix this problem this year with a legislation sponsored at my request by Senator Scott Cyrway, but DIF&W opposed the bill and it was reduced to a simple hike in fines for those who don’t get permits for exotic animals that require a permit or who fail to notify the Maine Warden Service if that animal gets loose.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of exotic animals that can be possessed without permits. And the owners of those animals don’t have to let anyone know when their animals get loose.
DIF&W maintains four lists for exotic animals: Unrestricted Species, Prohibited Species, and two categories of Restricted species. One Restricted list limits the species to very specific reasons including some public benefit. I was surprised to learn that there are only 5 or 6 animals on the prohibited list, and more than 3000 on the unrestricted list, including lots of snakes. The agency has issued about 150 permits for restricted species.
Our legislation would have required a permit to possess all exotic animals in Maine, and require the owners of exotics to notify the Maine Warden Service if their exotic animal gets loose along with any neighbors within that animal’s range of travel. Including Boa Constrictors.