Snake owners outraged over proposed exotic animal ban in Norman

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NORMAN, Okla. - Snakes are at the center of controversy in Norman.

Tuesday night, several pet owners showed up to the city council meeting to voice their concerns over a proposed ordinance that would ban certain types of exotic creatures like pythons and boa constrictors.

Gary Barksdale is a Normal mayoral candidate.

He has been caring for pythons for 22 years.

Right now, he has 18 slithering friends.

"I love them so much, because just look at them," Barksdale said, as he showed his pets to NewsChannel 4. "Who couldn't love them?"

Deputy Chief Jim Maisano with the Norman Police Department told us why boas and pythons are on the proposed ban list.

"What's going to keep them from escaping and getting out?” Maisano asked “How would you like to wake up some morning and see a two or three-foot snake on your porch?”

Even though pythons and boas are not venomous, city leaders said they are not indigenous to Oklahoma.

"We live in a cold enough climate that the animals are not going to survive the winter," Maisano said.

On top of that, he said the snakes gather numerous complaints.

"It would make more sense to me to ban dogs than to ban snakes," said Michael Wilkins. "More people are injured by their dogs and their cats."

Wilkins owns Snakes Alive animal resuce in Newalla.

If the ban passes, he will likely be asked to take in more snakes.

"A conservative estimate: There's probably 800 to 1,200 people in Norman that own these kind of reptiles and, for us, we're not profit and we work on a very limited budget," Wilkins said. "It would just overload us."

"I will fight it beyond city hall. I'll fight it to the state. I'll fight it all the way up, if necessary," Barksdale said. "These are freedoms. This is America, you know. And, for government to make intrusive decisions into our lives and in our own homes.”

City council members are set to discuss the proposed ban on Feb. 23rd.

They could make a decision by March 8th.