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.


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  • Jeff Simp­son

    Arent jokes sup­posed to be funny? Can you assault some­one via twitter?

  • kev­in­bin­ver­sie

    That’s what Chris Rick­ert told me once.

  • Jeff Simp­son

    you guys write sim­i­lar columns

  • James Wigder­son

    I don’t know why you would even engage with that igno­rant troll.