April 9, 2014 4:23 pm
Updated: April 10, 2014 5:40 pm

MLA wants change in exotic pet laws 8 months after python attack


FREDERICTON – Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault wants to see what’s been done to make sure there’s never another incident similar to the one in Campbellton, N.B. last August, when two young boys were strangled by an illegal python.

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“We’d expect to have a clearer picture of where we’re at today, and we’re not seeing that from the RCMP and also from the Department of Natural Resources,” he told reporters Wednesday.

The African Rock Python that killed Connor and Noah Barthe was prohibited under New Brunswick’s Fish and Wildlife Act, and the case revealed shortcomings within the province’s wildlife and exotic pet legislation.

The boys, aged six and four, were staying over at the home of  family friend, when the python escaped its containment unit and killed the brothers while they slept.

The four-metre snake was part of a private collection of reptiles owned by Jean-Claude Savoie, who ran an exotic pet shop below his apartment in the northern New Brunswick community.

The snake was captured inside the apartment and later euthanized.

READ MORE: Warrant shows new details in python deaths investigation

Arseneault believes the province can begin reviewing and improving that act before the criminal investigation into the boys’ death is complete.

But the Minister of Natural Resources doesn’t agree.

Paul Robichaud said a task force will be created to review the laws, but not until the RCMP investigation is finished.

“It will be more appropriate to wait for the conclusion of the investigation by the RCMP,” Robichaud said. “Because the RCMP investigation will probably help the committee and the government to receive some recommendation and direction as to what took place in Campbellton last summer.”

READ MORE: Python deaths prompt feds to look at exotic pet store rules

Arseneault says he’s spoken to the family of Connor and Noah, and they would like to see something done soon.

“When I talk to the grandfather, he doesn’t want this to happen again. Anything we can do to reduce that risk–we have the moral responsibility to do that.”

Several other exotic or prohibited animals were seized from Savoie’s store, called Reptile Ocean, following the boys’ deaths.

Search warrants showed that dozens of illegally owned animals were removed from the building.

An inventory taken by the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources lists 23 animals — including a pair of green anacondas, a green tree python, four American alligators and a West African dwarf crocodile — were seized.

Twenty-nine other animals were discovered and removed from deep freezers in the apartment, including 17 turtles, a yellow anaconda and two reticulated pythons.


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