Posts Tagged ‘invasive species’

If You Sell It, They Will Come

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

This week the US Geological Survey issued its much-anticipated report Giant Constrictors assessing the impact of 9 “giant” snake species on the country’s “ecology, economy, and domestic tranquility.”

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize a 200 pound reticulated python (or anaconda, burmese python, afrock, etc.) can seriously f#$% up the average voting citizen’s domestic tranquility.  It likewise doesn’t take 323 pages to know South Florida is perfect habitat for jungle reptiles.  (more…)

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…)

Pet Python Kills Child: Time for a Change

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Here’s the video of the tragic event that is rocking the reptile-keeping world.

(Here’s the news story). The snake appears to be an adolescent albino Burmese python.  At 8.5 feet, it’s about the size most people who keep them like.  Fortunately, there have been very few deaths from giant pythons in the United States, but this episode underscores the lack of responsibility leaders in the reptile industry have shown in making Burmese and reticulated pythons cornerstones of the reptile trade, selling tens of thousands to teenagers and other inappropriate buyers every year. 

There has recently been some excessive state and federal legislation floating around to eliminate keeping exotic animals of any kind (a hamster is technically exotic, so is a boa constrictor and a leopard gecko).  That legislation overshoots its mark in many respects (find out more at USARK) but its genesis can be traced to many in the reptile industry–big and small–who sell reptile species totally inappropriate to the average keeper (giant pythons, anacondas, large monitor lizards, alligators, venomous).  If that’s not enough head-in-the-sand leadership, some prominent dealers regularly import from known wildlife smugglers–exporters who also traffic some of the world’s rarest plants, birds and mammals. 

It might not have been possible to avoid this terrible death, but it may well have been possible to avoid the Everglades python story, the Cape Coral Nile Monitor story, and others that seem destined to doom legitimate reptile keeping.  Leaders in the industry need to (1) stop selling giant or venomous reptiles to non-experts, (2) stop importing anything from smugglers, and (3) as we do with most wild game, stop selling commercial-scale, wild-caught reptiles, period.  Saying these things may cost me a couple friends, but I believe they are necessary in today’s world, and the right thing to do.  There is no Second Amendment protection here.  If the industry doesn’t better regulate itself, someone else surely will do it instead. And tragedies like this one will certainly continue.

If you’ve got a view on this please post it (click comments below).  And check out PIJAC and HSUS for differing views.