Kamp, 042883 CAAGO, AGO 82-811

Docket Nº:AGO 82-811
Case Date:April 28, 1983
JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
JOHN T. MURPHY Deputy Attorney General
AGO 82-811
No. 82-811
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
April 28, 1983
         THE HONORABLE ROBERT W. NAYLOR, A MEMBER OF THE CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY, has requested an opinion on the following question:          Does "python" as used in Penal Code section 653o to identify an endangered snake include "anaconda"?          CONCLUSION          As used in Penal Code section 653o to identify an endangered snake, "python" does not include "anaconda."          ANALYSIS          Penal Code section 653o, subd. (a), provides as follows:
"It is unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any alligator, crocodile, polar bear, leopard, ocelot, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, sable antelope, wolf (Canis lupus), zebra, whale, cobra, python, sea turtle, colobus monkey, kangaroo, vicuna, sea otter, free-roaming feral horse, dolphin or porpoise (Delphinidae), Spanish lynx, or elephant." "Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) or imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed six months, or both such fine and imprisonment, for each violation." (Emphasis added.)
         We are asked whether or not the term "python" in this statute includes "anaconda."
Section 653o was enacted in 1970 (Stats. 1970, ch. 1557, § 1, p. 3186) following the passage of the federal Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-135; 83 Stat. 275).1 Each statute was designed to "prevent the extinction of endangered species." (People v. K. Sakai Co. (1976) 56 Cal.App.3d 531, 536.) The original version of section 653o did not include python among the listed varieties of threatened wildlife. Python was added in 1971 along with zebra, whale, cobra, sea turtle, colobus monkey and kangaroo. (Stats. 1971, ch. 1283, § 1, pp. 2511-2512.) The inclusion of python represents a legislative determination that this form of life is imperiled and "elimination of a market for products from these species will promote their continued existence." (People v. K. Sakai Co., supra, at p. 537.) We are informed that python hides are used in the manufacture of such items as purses, belts and shoes.
         In determining the meaning of the term python as used in section 653o we are mindful that this section is a penal statute and is to be construed...

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