Government’s Snake Task Force is committed to looking at the development of policy to ensure that the current situation of illegal alien species being released into the environment is not repeated.

This is the word from the Ministry of Energy and the Environment following the Task Force’s first meeting. It reiterated that the importation of snakes into Barbados is strictly regulated by the Veterinary Services Division, of the Ministry of Agriculture, and no snakes which are venomous in nature or grow to more than six feet in length should be imported.

“The Task Force intends to use these guidelines as the starting point for a mechanism to further ensure that persons who own snakes are required to register them in the same way that dogs are currently registered.

“Micro-chipping will also be utilised so that if an escaped snake is recaptured from the wild, the Government would be able to trace its background and origin. The proposed system would be supported by legislation, including that for the Operation of Zoos and Pet Shops, to ensure that where animals such as snakes do enter the country, they are kept in a manner that ensures they cannot escape and that they are disposed of in an appropriate manner. It would also include a Snake Licensing Bill,” said a Ministry statement.

Amid rising concerns about snake sightings across the island, the Minister of Energy and the Environment, Elizabeth Thompson, established the Snake Task Force recently.  It includes representatives of that Ministry, the Barbados Defence Force (BDF), and the Royal Barbados Police Force; Dr. Rosina Maitland, of the Veterinary Services Division; Mr. Wayne Norville, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Dr. Julia Horrocks, of the University of the West Indies and Mr. Corey Forde, of the Barbados Herpetological Society (BHS).

The team received training assistance from herpetologist Damon Corrie and the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. So far, the Task Force has identified the necessary resources and the BDF is obtaining specifications to facilitate the ordering of the equipment.

Meanwhile, the Snake Hotline, in existence since the beginning of June to help with the recapture of snakes, has received at least a dozen calls and will continue to serve as an information line for sightings.  It is manned by the Ministry during regular working hours and forwarded to members of the BHS after office hours.

A snake captured last month is securely housed at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, in an enclosure specifically designed for reptiles.

Members of the public are reminded that if a snake is spotted, they should not to attempt to approach or harm it, but should call the Snake Hotline immediately at 467-5757.

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