Leave it to a snake to ruin paradise. Hawaiian officials are worried that a steady increase in illegal snake ownership—a 9-foot boa and a 7-foot python were captured this month after escaping—will threaten the islands' fragile ecosystem and kill off birds and flowers, reports the Associated Press. Environmental experts say Hawaii could face the same fate as Guam, which was infested with brown tree snakes after World War II and lost much of its native bird population as a result.
Although possessing a snake in Hawaii could bring three years in prison and a $200,000 fine, the number of annual snake sightings has been rising since 1990. "It's our moral responsibility to try to keep them out for as long as possible," says a spokeperson for the state's Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species. "I don't look forward to future generations saying, `They really dropped the ball on that one. There used to be birds in Hawaii.'"