Wildlife smuggling awareness campaign welcome, but laws and enforcement must also keep pace with poachers
October 12, 2007
ISSUE: Exotic species threaten native wildlife.
South Florida has invested plenty in Everglades restoration efforts, a wetlands reclamation project largely aimed at protecting the sawgrass prairies, mangrove forests and hammock oases of the famed
A videotaped, almost made-for-YouTube encounter between a python and an alligator a couple years ago, plus the gruesome discovery of the carcasses of another python and alligator last year, raised awareness of what could be an ecological nightmare. Namely, exotic species invading turf needed by threatened and fragile native animals.
How does exotic wildlife get a foothold? The suspicion is the foreign species are legally bought by pet owners, who then carelessly and recklessly let them loose in the wild once they can't maintain their upkeep. There are also folks who obtain their exotic pets illegally from smugglers.
The State Department's public awareness campaign is welcome. But it's evident that tougher regulations and enforcement is necessary.
For starters, it's time state and federal laws ban the legal sale of some species to the public, and better regulate others. Second,
Greater watchfulness would allow
BOTTOM LINE: Public awareness efforts necessary, along with stricter laws, enforcement.