Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stop It - The Burmese Python - Part II

In 2008 the USGS released a potential range map for Burmese Pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) in the United States. The startling suggestion was that the lower third of the continental US could be prime habitat. What it neglected to point out was that this tropical weather-loving snake can’t take the cold.

As evidence, in 2000 the Everglades National Park removed two Burmese Pythons. In 2005 they removed 94 more. In 2009 they removed the highest number ever at 367 followed by a decline in 2010 to 322 and in 2011 only 169 were found. (Click for ENP Removal Data) In 2010 Florida suffered a sustained period of cold weather. For ten days, the temperature remained un-Florida like and the consequence was the death of many of the invasive species (as well as many of our native one like the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).

The snakes are a huge problem. Necropsies have found the endangered Florida Woodrat (Neotoma floridana), Big Cypress Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger avicinnia), Wood Storks (Mycteria americana), Everglades Mink (Mustela vison evergladensis) and recently a 76 pound deer in the belly of the snakes. 

Compounding the problem is the protective nature and prodigious offspring output of a female Python. One female can lay up to ninety eggs. Cold will keep them from spreading north. Strict laws are being put in place to ban the importation of the largest and most dangerous of the invaders and most of the locals are intent on dispatching them.

If only I could enlighten the media a little.
1)      Alligators rule the Everglades
2)      A handful of pet Anacondas have been found and they are not known to be breeding in the Everglades.
3)      The Everglades is over four million acres. The study of mammal population declines occurred in the Everglades National Park. The pythons do not have “voracious appetites”, nor are they “picking the Everglades clean”.
4)      The media has a stranglehold on their readers. We have a right to well researched, well written information. Not sensationalism.

To those that would release invasive snakes into the Everglades and to those in the media who perpetuate the python myths – Stop it. 

1 comment: