Posts Tagged ‘Everglades’

Florida Python Slaughter Authorized

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Yesterday, the Interior Department announced a plan to terminate Burmese pythons in the Everglades.  The plan allows “hunters the opportunity to terminate pythons, a non-game species, with the use of their firearm.”  Already Floridians are taking it upon themselves to drive over pythons they see in the road.  Certainly Burmese pythons are a devastating addition to the South Florida eco-system, but the python population, which is estimated to exceed 150,000 snakes, would seem to be regrettably permanent.  If that’s the case, then the proposal’s bounty hunting provisions are not an effective effort to protect an eco-system, but rather a tropical wolf hunt

Since there would appear to be no one on the side of the snakes, I’ll take a shot at it.  I would like to limit dispatching of snakes to techniques that have been proved humane.  Killing by inhumane means should result in a civil or criminal penalty.  Second, I notice that officials rarely refer publicly to the extent of the problem even though in private conversations with me and others they will relate how the populations are already so large as to be impossible to fix. (Note there are no population estimates in Secretary Salazar’s press release.)   Estimates on Burmese python populations should be regularly published so that we can monitor whether we are truly making a difference in the population or instead satisfying some less admirable urge. 

Secretary Salazar Announces Renewed Commitment, Expanded Programs to Eliminate Pythons from Everglades

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced today [sic] that the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the State of Florida and other stakeholders, are renewing their commitment and expanding existing programs to eliminate Burmese pythons from the Everglades. (more…)

Python v. Florida: Swallowing Ethics

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

As you probably know, Burmese pythons have been found in South Florida, including in the Florida Keys.  What is not widely reported is that the Everglades population is estimated to exceed 150,000 pythons, meaning the species is now established there permanently.  People I know there talk about the disappearance of ground dwelling birds and mammals in areas populated by the pythons.  Tragically, those tasked with addressing the problem have been using shotguns to dispatch the pythons; one avowed nature lover I know boasted driving a car over a python to protect the glades.   An ethics question:  if the snakes are now part of our eco-system, is it responsible for biologists to kill them?  …to kill them inhumanely? 

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction (and congress) is considering and often passing anti-reptile keeping legislation.  Given this, and regardless whether they are ever negligently released, is it responsible to sell tens of thousands of giant pythons each year? …to teenagers?

Here is a good link to Allen Salzberg’s coverage of the issue in HerpDigest.   Here is a link to Tom Crutchfield’s take on the issue on Kingsnake.com.  Readers of The Lizard King know that Tom Crutchfield is a pioneer in the reptile business and a world-class smuggler in his heyday- He is also a very knowledgeable guy. 

Below is the Today Show story on the Burmese pythons loose in South Florida/Keys (ps. that first shot is a boa).