Bill would ban private ownership of certain snakes - KLFY News 10

Bill would ban private ownership of certain snakes

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The legislative session is in full swing at the state capitol and there are a number of different bills lawmakers are trying to pass. But one in particular, Senate Bill 357 is ruffling feathers. The proposed bill would ban the importation or private ownership of certain snakes.

Some people own cats and dogs and then others stray from the traditional route and own more exotic species. But if SB 357 gains any traction, ownership of several constrictors will be banned. It's a proposal that's concerning to Beanie Villermin, who owns over 40 reptiles—many that are on the ban-list.

"It pretty much means we have to euthanize all these snakes, perfectly healthy snakes," said Villermin.

Villermin holds permits through the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, but the bill would cut that permit out of mix. The bill specifies only animal sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife research centers, and scientific organizations would be allowed to possess such reptiles. 

"All you ever hear about is the negative in the news, so when kids get killed or keepers get hurt not following protocol, that's what you hear," said Villermin. "So, we try and get the word out they can be good animals and good pets."

There are a number of different reasons for owning certain kinds of snakes. Villermin's Burmese python, Victorio, was just featured in the TV series American Horror Story: Coven. But besides a Hollywood resume, Villermin says his snakes—some over a hundred pounds—are a teaching tool and serve a purpose.

"We use them in photo-shoots, a lot of 4-H shows, boy scouts have reptile merit badges and stuff," said Villermin. "We try and educate them on the different species."

Senate Bill 357 is currently pending approval from the Committee on Natural Resources. The bill is authored by Senator Norby Chabert from Houma.

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