Pythons, the “Asian Carp of the Everglades”
Invasive species stories always amaze me. Maybe it’s the fact that a foreign species can so effectively wipe out an environment that quickly, or maybe it was the end scene in an old episode of “The Simpsons.”
Likely let go by exotic pet owners, pythons — typically from the jungles of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — have made the Florida Everglades their new home. They’ve become so prevalent, they the state of Florida is now allowing for a hunting season to try to alleviate the problem. This weekend, Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) will take part in a hunt where over 800 people have received permits to go after the snakes.
Pythons are not poisonous snakes. They’re what is commonly known as “constrictors,” which means they kill their prey by wrapping themselves around their targets and then literally squeezing them to death.
Nelson has spoken out on the issue for several years, and on Thursday will personally join in the latest effort to reduce their numbers: the state-sanctioned python hunt in the Florida Everglades.
The state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering a total of $2,500 in cash prizes for the hunter who bags the most and the longest of the invasive snake species. Experts recommend either shooting the snake or decapitating it with a machete.
Estimates of how many live in the Everglades range from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.
Florida’s month-long snake hunt ends on February 10.
No word yet if any environmentalists have yet sued to halt it, but it’s early.
UPDATE: After three days of the hunt (it began on Saturday) Florida officials report that only 11 snakes have been killed. However, that might be the number that’s only been registered to game authorities.
UPDATE II: Someone please do what half of the Madison press corps he’s assaulting via Twitter and email have told me in private and hand Jeff Simpson a Valium. Dude really needs to calm down when it comes to jokes regarding environmentalists suing to stop a hunt. Because, you know, that never happens here in Wisconsin.