March 22, 2009

Exotic animals stars of Amnesty Day

South Florida residents turned in 102 animals as part of Non-native Pet Amnesty Day with pets ranging from pythons to albino catfish, state officials say.

State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said dozens of snakes were handed over as part of the unwanted pets program, along with a howler monkey and a noisy yellow-collared macaw, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Sunday.

This is an effort to stop further introduction of exotic pets into the wild, Scott Hardin, exotic species section chief for the commission, said of Saturday's event.

The release of exotic animals into the wild has become a problem in Florida, which already counts a growing python population among its non-native wildlife.

Vanessa Romero of Boynton Beach, Fla., told the Sun-Sentinel she decided to give up her pet iguana because its growing size was not conducive to her family's busy lifestyle.

This is hard, but if I can count on him going to a good home, she said.