MIAMI -

A federal judge says a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a nationwide ban on four giant snake species may proceed.

Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled last week in Washington federal court against attorneys for Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who wanted the lawsuit dismissed.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers sued the federal government in December. They have challenged the science behind the ban on Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African rock pythons. They also say the ban has cost reptile breeders, handlers, hobbyists and vendors tens of millions of dollars.

Sullivan also ruled that the group has until May 9 to amend the original complaint.

The ban was announced in 2012. Wildlife officials say it protects native wildlife.