Florida's exotic animal problem - FOX 13 News

Florida's exotic animal problem

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

When police got the call that a snake was on the loose near an East Tampa day care center Friday, they had no idea what they'd run into.

"It was actually a medium sized ball python in the wild," said Officer John Nelson of the Tampa Police Department.

Unfortunately, the three-foot long ball python was injured and eventually died.

That species of snake is not native to Florida or the United States for that matter so, it's likely the snake was kept as a pet.

"Somebody probably owned it, probably didn't want it anymore and just let it go," said Nelson.

This has been an issue in our area as of late. An eight-foot Burmese python was seen in the Snell Isle area earlier this month.

That animal is still on the loose.

It's presumed it's also a pet that either got away or was set free.

Wildlife experts are urging people to stop setting exotic animals free in the environment.

To combat the problem there will be an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day at the Boyd Hill Animal Preserve in South St. Pete Saturday.

"This event is basically for those people that can't care for these animals anymore," said event organizer Brian Pavlina

"For those people who have pets which require permits, if you do not have a permit you can turn the pet in no questions asked," said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Those surrendered will eventually be adopted out to approved owners.

The FWC is helping coordinate the Amnesty Day.

They say the biggest issue with exotic animals being set free in the wild isn't a threat to humans, but what they do to our eco system.

"The real danger is in the balance of the conservation of our native species within our state," said Morse.

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