A PRIZE-WINNING PYTHON BE IN YOUR FUTURE?
January 27, 2013
Will you please comment on the python hunt being held in Florida.
I have good news and bad news for anyone interested in the state-sponsored
hunt for this invasive species. The bad news is that you have missed
the deadline to register for the Jan. 12 opening day. The good news
is that you can still pay the $25 entry fee and participate in the contest,
which ends Feb. 10. You can then walk around in a swamp looking for
something you are unlikely to see. You might prefer a destination in
southern Florida where you will be sure to enjoy yourself.
you decide to opt for Disney World or South Beach instead of the Everglades,
keep in mind the rewards being offered in the python hunt: $1,500 for
whoever catches the most pythons; $1,000 for the longest. The Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions stated purpose is to
raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species
is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife.
Nowhere is it stated, or even implied, that letting hundreds of untrained
citizens armed with captive bolt pistols and other firearms roam southern
Floridas wildlife management areas will make the smallest dent
in Floridas massive python population. To get details about Python
Challenge 2013, check out www.pythonchallenge.org.
Meanwhile, I have four predictions about this absurd exercise.
of the participants will never see a python in the wild. More than 1,000
people have signed up to hunt for these huge snakes, and in the first
three days, only 11 pythons were found. Eleven! This translates to the
capture of not even one python per day for every 250 people. Five days
after the competition opened, only 21 had been brought in. Thats
still only about four a day. Not so good if you are trying to reduce
the invasive Burmese python population, which is estimated at more than
100,000 in the Everglades. And when the next batch of 60 to 80 eggs
hatches out, the python hunters will have fallen even further behind.
According to one report, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson from Florida went tromping
around on a python hunt last week. The score was photo op 1, pythons
of the pythons in the Everglades will continue to elude capture. Why?
(1) Many wanna-be python catchers will not venture farther than a football
field length from a highway because most people who have no experience
trekking through the wild areas of southern Florida are not going to
get out of sight of their car. (2) The thousands of pythons living in
the hundreds of square miles of dense vegetation that constitute much
of the region will be incredibly well camouflaged when on the surface.
(3) The pythons will disappear under cover, concealing themselves completely,
when they detect the slightest vibration caused by human footsteps.
Wearing camo may make a python hunter look cool. It makes no difference
at all to a python.
to mistaken identity, native species of large snakes such as Everglades
rat snakes and watersnakes will die at the hands of well-meaning python
will be made, with or without documentation, that some of the pythons
captured were actually brought in as ringers in order to win a prize.
Such suggestions have been made for years about rattlesnake roundups
in which snake wranglers get awards for prize snakes. Claims have been
made in Georgia that some of the eastern diamondback rattlesnakes on
display did not originate at the festival location.
are clearly a problem in southern Florida and deciding how to most effectively
deal with them is still being discussed and debated. One solution is
to resign ourselves to the fact that they are now part of our North
American fauna. Meanwhile, its not too late to sign up for the
ongoing hunt and get someone you care about a python belt or purse for
Valentines Day. Happy hunting.
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