LA bill could make owning some snakes illegal, if passed
POSTED: Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 3:40am
UPDATED: Monday, March 17, 2014 - 12:55pm
DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (NBC33) — The Lewises love their pets. They've got a dog, a turtle, and about thirty Boa Constrictors just like their snake, Beau. But if one bill passes, Joe and Joy could be breaking the law--just by having Beau.
"it's just really unfair if they became illegal overnight,
automatically, I'm a criminal," said Joy Lewis. Senate Bill 357 was introduced during this year's Legislative Session. This bill would ban people in Louisiana from owning or importing Boa
Constrictors and venomous snakes. But the Senator who wrote it said he did so for good reason.
We caught up with Senator Norby Chabert who released this statement, "...Our State has suffered because of unintended
consequences of the rapid reproduction rates that come when these non-indgenous species are introduced into our environment."
Snake owner, Joe Lewis, had a different opinion. "Basically they're fear driven." Joe and Joy own Bayou Boas, and they also kicked off the organization that puts on the big reptile expo Repticon every year. "We bring in tourist dollars from people out of state that come in to vend at these expos," said Joe.
And since the Lacey Act makes it illegal to export those animals out of State. This family wants to know, if they can't own their pets and they can't ship them to people in other places either, what'll happen to them?
"What that means is these would have to be euthanized. They can't cross state lines. It's illegal by federal law and it's under the Lacey Act," said Joe.
When we asked Senator Chabert if, in fact, these animals would have to be put down, he says that's not mentioned in the bill. He went on to say that other states have had problems with these animals and he doesn't want that to happen here.
However, hen asked his initial reaction the bill, Joe replied, "Shock..Utter shock." And although the bill is not law yet, reptile lovers say they're still uneasy .
With all the pushback both inside and outside of the state, the author of the bill said "I look forward to listening to the concerns of the many proponents and opponents of this bill."
An opportunity that snake lovers like Joe, won't let slither by.
"I'd be happy to sit down with him," said Joe.
To own these animals, you have to have a permit at this time. Zoos, sanctuaries, and research centers would be exempt should this become law.