Court sides with reptile owners on giant snake ban

Appeals court says federal government cannot stop trade of pythons, other snakes

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI – An appeals court has ruled that the federal government cannot legally stop the trade of Burmese pythons and other giant exotic snakes in the continental U.S.

However, snake owners are cautioned not to move their reptiles yet as other legal challenges could remain.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers sued in 2013 to overturn a nationwide ban on importing eight constrictor species or taking them across state lines.

In an April 7 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that U.S. wildlife officials didn't have authority to restrict interstate trade of snakes such as Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons or green anacondas.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the court addressed the law's wording but not the data supporting the ban.