February 1, 2012

Non-native pythons and anacondas are eating all the native mammals in the southern part of the Everglades.

WaPo reports:
The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain. In October, a 16-foot python was found resting after devouring a deer.

“There aren’t many native mammals that pythons can’t choke down,” said Robert N. Reed, a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geologial Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center....

The snakes were released by pet owners into the Everglades, where they started to breed....

The Obama administration recently banned the import and interstate commerce of Burmese python, two species of African pythons, and the yellow anaconda. But under pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, trade of the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python, and the boa constrictor were allowed to continue....
What's the point? Is the solution to ban pet snakes or not? If you don't have the political will to do it, why do it part way? But if the real problem is the idiots who release pets into the wild, why not punish them severely enough to get some deterrence? And yet, the problem is already out there. The swamp is full of snakes that are lunching on everything and breeding like mad.

I love the last line of the article. It's like the ending of a 1950s monster movie:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted that a new generations of Burmese pythons on the edge of their non-native range can adapt and “expand to colder climates.”
And now... they're coming for you!

IN THE COMMENTS: ~N. quoting the article — "The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain" — said:
Yeah. They made a movie about this.
Ah, yes! I found the fabulous trailer:

104 comments:

Scott M said...

Yet another reason why Goths herald the end of society...not that the care much...

Mark O said...

I heard they don't like redheads.

TMink said...

They can expand their territory? What next? Snakes on the plains?

Trey

Barry Dauphin said...

Enough is enough. I have had it with these m-f snakes in these m-f Everglades.
----Samuel L Jackson

Kevin said...

Jonah Goldberg has the right idea - just put a bounty on them. Let private citizens go out and hunt them - it certainly worked in wiping out the wolf populations.

Of course, a bounty now would probably break several dozen Federal environmental laws.

Toshstu said...

Bounty time.

Irene said...

A python bit a Madison woman on the face this week while she was attending ... a book club.

MadisonMan said...

I never understood why they didn't just lower the temperature on the plane and put the snakes to sleep.

I agree with the bounty solution. $100 per? $200 per? Goodbye snakes. Hello fashionable snakeskin boots.

Bob Ellison said...

Can they adapt to the weather in Washington?

David Blaska said...

Snakes on the Interstate, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Mark said...

Bounty.

Heck, make a TV series and use that to fund the bounty.

Might give out a few Darwin awards, though.

Scott M said...

A python bit a Madison woman on the face this week while she was attending ... a book club.

See, if she would have been attending an e-book club, it wouldn't have happened.

Henry said...

The punishment is a gunny sack, a pair of waders and a map.

Don't come back until you find your snake.

edutcher said...

Is that a python in your...

OK, is that a human in you, or are you...

Actually, put a bounty on the PETA crowd, then put a bounty on the snakes. And sell snakeskin accessories to pay down any debt FL has.

Patrick said...

Jonah Goldberg had a great quote about this yesterday in the Corner.

"Give me five thousand Ted Nugent fans and all the weapons they can carry and the waters of the everglades will run red with Burmese snake blood."

I believe that should take care of the problem.

Scott M said...

Honestly, people. This hysteria is ridiculous. How much trouble can five aging British guys inflict anyway? Hell, one of them is dead.

(Sure, they've got an American in tow, but he's probably only directing the killing and animating the pictures of the kills)

Patrick said...

Making python hunting legal and profitable is even better than a bounty. Those skins are worth lots as boots, belts and wallets.

William said...

Who knew that the reticulated python had its own lobbying group in Washington? Why should the reticulated python get preferential treatment over the Burmese python simply because of the efforts of its lobbyists? I long for the day when all pythons are treated as equal.

cassandra lite said...

Gives additional meaning to the line, "And if you believe that, I've got some swampland in Florida..."

Don said...

"The Obama administration recently banned the import and interstate commerce of Burmese python, two species of African pythons, and the yellow anaconda." Wrong answer. Rather than a bounty, legalize commerce in snake parts (as opposed to live snakes). Let people make money shipping skins off to Europe. According to internet sources, the European Union is the biggest importer of reptile skins for the fashion industry. Between 2000 and 2005 it is estimated that skins from some 3.4 million lizards, 2.9 million crocodiles, and 3.4 million snakes were imported into the EU. One factory in Italy handled some 50,000 snake skins in 2008.

madAsHell said...

Who in their right fuggin' mind keeps a snake as a pet?

Why don't we just ban people who keep snakes as pets. They can be easily identified by the studs, and rings piercing their genitals.

Seeing Red said...

Just declare a hunting season. Mama needs new snakeskin shoes and purse. Restaurants can offer up snake appetizers.

EDH said...

You're not going to get to the root of the problem unless you ban the importation of the feather boa.

Sorry, Elton.

Carol_Herman said...

Oh, please. Somebody's got to eat the crocks.

Everything in Florida is non-native. Ask the American Indians.

The worry is that if they can expand into other states. Like Mitt Romney.

traditionalguy said...

What we need is someone who can divine the future of the python.

David said...

Kill them. A bounty of $250 each.

A common estimate is 30,000 of the lovely creatures in the Everglades.

If they are all killed, the total bounty would be $7.5 million.

That's less than the Feds will spend on studies about what to do.

I repeat. Kill them.

richard mcenroe said...

Hey, if magazine capacity can make a gun illegal, species can make a snake a criminal...

Patrick said...

There is a great "big snake" Urban Legend I heard a few years ago. The story was that some lady had a pet boa constrictor that quit eating its regular hamsters. The woman eventually took it to the vet, and "happened to mention" that it had been crawling into be with her (ewww). The vet told her to leave the snake so he could destroy it, because it was "sizing her up," in order to eat her.

When my wife first told me the story, she thought that it originated from a credible source, so I believed it for awhile, which was distressing because our babysitter was buying a boa. Quick search on the google proved it wrong.

But still, who wants a big snake?

Chuck66 said...

I saw a picture of one of these monsters. GEESH|!!! They are HUGE. It is like something out of a horror movie.

Seriously though....non-native plants and animals are incredibly destructive.

Scott M said...

But still, who wants a big snake?

"babysitter" and "snake" should never describe what's inside the same house.

AJ Lynch said...

I don't understand why we don't have a bounty on alligators too. It would be a hell of a job stimulus.

edutcher said...

Patrick said...

There is a great "big snake" Urban Legend I heard a few years ago. The story was that some lady had a pet boa constrictor that quit eating its regular hamsters. The woman eventually took it to the vet, and "happened to mention" that it had been crawling into be with her (ewww).

A mutually beneficial arrangement?

WV "aneighti" What a woman wears to be in the winter.

AJ Lynch said...

You can't read this story without concluding that this country has lost its collective mind. You can't fucking sell potato chips or soda in some school vending machines but you can own vicious pit bulls or a 20 foot python from Africa.

Clare King said...

We have yearly alligator hunts in Alabama to keep the population down.

http://outdooralabama.com/hunting/game/alligatorhunthome/

PatCA said...

So this problem requires "swift, decisive" action? Don't bet on the Obama government to furnish that. We have the eco-nazi supplicants versus the trade group, so expect paralysis.

And guys, we can't have a bounty because guns are evil! Killing animals is evil too.

Bob said...

The 'science' of driving around to conduct a population count.
Interesting, since you can't drive in the vast majority of the Everglades.

More likely it's the Florida Panther (Texas Cougar) that is eating everything. Perhaps these scientists could conduct some research on the stomach content of Panther roadkill.

Levi Starks said...

NYC has a serious RAT problem, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

MadisonMan said...

Amos Moses would know what to do.

KJE said...

If an episode of the Simpsons already tackled this issue; I don't see why we can't.

And come to think of it, I think 2 episodes actually did tackle the issue.

Tank said...

SURVIVOR XXXV

Release two teams of five men and women each, unarmed, into the area, and the most pythons and anacondas captured wins.

And if some of the pythons and anacondas win - even better. Great tv.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... A python bit a Madison woman on the face this week.."

There is just so much material to work with in that line.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... But still, who wants a big snake?.."

Now there is a great opening line to use on the ladies.

garage mahal said...

Less job killing python regulation, and more Ted Nugent! Yeee-hawww!

Scott M said...

Somehow, I don't think the fisherman in GM would have a problem hunting pythons.

Michael said...

You can probably legally kill the snakes outside the Park but not in it. Once legally killed the snake's skin can probably not be legally sold. I love our Govt. it thinks of everything. If the good idea of a bounty were instituted it would have to be supplemented by a license of some sort which would necessitate the creation of a license bureau which would require locations and personnel trained in issuing licenses to snake killers, or would-be snake killers. I think ten license people for every applicant would be about right. The application would require some reviewing, preferably by a herpetologist with some background in psychology to insure that the taking of the snakes would be done without malice and without pain and that the applicant could identify all snakes. All snakes?you ask. Yes, because there are many many helpful snakes in the Everglades and they cannot be harmed if mistaken for the subject animals. Oh, the application would be in two parts. The written application followed by the test.

Then we are off and running and hopefully you don't forget to put the stickers on your boat and to remember that you cannot use airboats for the purpose of hunting and killing pythons since airboats are specifically excluded as hunting boats.

AJ Lynch said...

Michael said:
"I think ten license people for every applicant would be about right. The application would require some reviewing, preferably by a herpetologist with some background in psychology to insure that the taking of the snakes would be done without malice and without pain and that the applicant could identify all snakes. All snakes?you ask. Yes, because there are many many helpful snakes in the Everglades and they cannot be harmed if mistaken for the subject animals. Oh, the application would be in two parts. The written application followed by the test."

This cracked me up!

Freder Frederson said...

Once legally killed the snake's skin can probably not be legally sold.

Why do you assume that. A little basic research shows that these animals are on Appendix II of CITES, which means export and and import of live animals and products requires a permit, but is not banned. Animal parts are generally treated the same as live animals under CITES, so if you can import live animals, the trade in parts is not banned.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I don't see why this is a big deal. We turn a blind eye to millions of illegal immigrants who come so what harm are a few snakes? A python from Burma or Africa should be able to enjoy feasting on a deer as much as some redblooded American alligator. Both are reptiles and we should be celebrating the rich, vibrant diversity that our reptilian African and Burmese brothers bring to this land of immigrants.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... export and and import of live animals and products requires a permit, but is not banned..."

Next thing you know and you'll be demanding photo id so they can vote.

Richard Dolan said...

"What's the point? Is the solution to ban pet snakes or not? If you don't have the political will to do it, why do it part way? But if the real problem is the idiots who release pets into the wild, why not punish them severely enough to get some deterrence?"

Many have noted the suggestion by Jonah Goldberg to address the problem directly -- if it's too many snakes, allow hunters or others (he suggested bootmakers and other leather-goods types) to kill the snakes for their skins.

Much more interesting is Ann's suggestion that the solution turns on the concept of punishment -- state action to assign blame, and use that to stop miscreants from adding to the problem. As solutions go, that's wonderfully legalistic and bureaucratic, but more likely only to create useless bureaucrats than it is to reduce snake populations. If adopted it would quite likely have the same result as other gov'tal attempts to use criminal justice/regulatory agencies to suppress victimless behaviour.

Far better to look at this as a simple problem in economics -- too much supply of one good (snakes), which is solved by reducing the transaction cost of obtaining a valuable input in someone's business to near (or if Goldberg's bounty idea were adopted, even below) zero. The same solution has been proposed to deal with the explosion of the population of Canadian geese throughout the East Coast where they have become pests -- just let the Cantonese chefs have a hunting season and the problem population will be reduced to whatever level is deemed desirable in no time at all.

Strange to see Ann suggesting (I am assuming her pointed questions were intended as more than queries) a nanny-state solution in the first instance. Just more evidence that, at heart, she is more Dem than Rep.

Freder Frederson said...

Hunting pythons is legal in Florida, here are the requirements for a permit. This fact-free bashing of nonexistent government regulations is ridiculous.

Roberto said...

Hoosier Daddy said..."I don't see why this is a big deal. We turn a blind eye to millions of illegal immigrants who come so what harm are a few snakes?"

Geee, brilliant observation.

And when you say "we" who exactly are you referring to?

dbp said...

Why is it always the first instinct of politicians to deal with a problem through new restrictions? Most normal people come up with solving problems by allowing greater freedom.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Can we get both the RNC and DNC conventions down there? I would support that.

wv - punful

Carnifex said...

We used to joke that the reason you didn't see many snakes down here was because the alligators ate them all. That's changing now.

Another big problem are the damn iguanas. Things can grow up to 5 feet. A little girl was feeding some a couple years ago, dropped a strawberry by her foot, and a big one bit her big toe almost off. They'll rest high in trees and take a duke on you too, which is pleasant as hell.

I looked into trapping and selling the damn things for pets, but that's against the law.

The way to get rid of the problem is to use money as an incentive...i.e. bounty.

Triangle Man said...

A bounty might work, but Florida would probably be best served by doing what it does best, snake hunting tourism.

Christian said...

Just wait until they find their way to the airport and get on a plane!

(how could you not have intuitively gone there?)

Bill said...

How much meat is there on a 16-ft python?

(Word Verification: "noleg". Heh.)

Scott M said...

(how could you not have intuitively gone there?)

Someone did, above. I'm a bit stunned at the lack of Cleese and co. references.

Michael said...

FrederF: Thank you for the link and for making my point. The regulations and rules and permitting processes are already in place. Eureka. Don't forget your digital camera and your GPS Mr. Python hunter and don't forget to renew your licenses every year. If you transport the python and have captured the python on private property you will need a license. But you don't if you kill the snake on the private property. This will take some getting into but I see that the matter is under control. So why is there a problem?

Rusty said...

Tax em. They'll go away.

Rusty said...

Michael. You put way too much thought into this.
They're snakes! Just kill em' sort the good from the bad later.

Michael said...

Bill: There is quite a bit of meat on a python but you had best know the difference between the Burmese and other types because according to the helpful link provided by FrederF the Burmese has lots of mercury and "may be banned" for consumption whatever that may mean.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

By request:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sh8mNjeuyV4

WV - BYWOONS

Michael said...

Rusty: Have you ever encountered a Fish and Game guy in the wild? In a National Park? Next time you do show him all the pretty rocks you have collected and see what he says. Ditto snakes, wildflowers, elk, and so on.

Petunia said...

Somehow this is Jeb Bush's fault.

traditionalguy said...

Coming soon: The skulking pythons of Lake Mendota Cafe. Don't constrict your thoughts.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... Geee, brilliant observation..."

Jeremy does it bother you that you're either too stupid or so much of a humorless asshole that you can't recognize parody?

Cause it should.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... A little girl was feeding some a couple years ago, dropped a strawberry by her foot, and a big one bit her big toe almost off..."

Serves her right. Rather than giving stawberry handouts, she should be demanding those lazy iguanas pull themselves up by their claw straps and work for their food like the hardworking alligators and pythons. They're obviously doing the foraging that the iguanas won't do.

It's like my granddad always said, give an iguana a strawberry and they'll take your big toe.

Steven said...

The primary effect of a bounty will be to enrich the people with enough foresight to live capture a breeding pair.

DADvocate said...

Here's a couple of pictures of me with a 12 foot albino reticulated python and a 13 foot reticulated python with their baby. I'm a big guy, but I wouldn't want to have to fight an adult python with my bare hands.

The bounty solution should work well. If I lived in Florida, I'd gladly pack up my shotgun and hunt them snakes for $50 a head. For $100 a head, I'd be out there every weekend.

These are dangerous invasive species. Protect our natural environment, kill them all.

LordSomber said...

Idea: Owners should be required to microchip their snakes.
Get all GPS on them.
Would that help?

traditionalguy said...

I read that a SF City park famous for allowing walking dogs off leash had been taken over by the State who promptly clamped down on evil dog walkers.

When the Park Police came upon a man with two small and unleashed lap dogs, they decided to issue a ticket to get the word out about the new rules...and to collect some money before the coming March bankruptcy.

That raised the issue of his having no ID on him to prove his name and address. That was the sine qua non needed for the collection of the fine money. So the Park Police called in to her superior for instructions.

The dog walker asked if he could go on...no answer came from the officer of the government that can be petitioned, but can ignore you maggots.

So he walked off a few feet, and she ran up and tazed him in the back, cuffed him and issued more charges to crush the maggot daring to act like a free man in public.

DADvocate said...

. But under pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, trade of the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python, and the boa constrictor were allowed to continue....

The snake owners vote is very important. Who cares if your kid gets eaten?

DADvocate said...

Here's a good link to the albino python.

ALH said...

Big, strong, muscular snakes heading for colder climates? Titus will be very pleased.

Cedarford said...

Freder sort of bum doped everyone. If you read into his link, it covers hunting in Everglades areas OUTSIDE official Federal Everglades National Park.
Within the Park proper, until 2011, only park staff and contractors could remove non-invasive species. No firearms or nuisance species hunting was allowed people who were not Hero Fed government employees.

http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/burmesepython.htm

In 2010, with the place already boiling up with snakes, the Feds in their wisdom, started a pilot program for non-government sorts to go in and take snakes from the National Park for study and research at accredited schools. Including research into the methodology of python removal.

This pilot program of authorized agents was capped at 30 people...for the whole Everglades. And until 2011 were barred from bringing firearms into the Park. So they had to have special "snakehandling" certification to get their authorized agent Permit. As well as have non-firearms means to skillfully and humanely kill said captured snakes.

Pleased with the program, the Feds decided to allow it to continue with another year granted, again capped at 30 people.

But yes, Freder is right that Florida allows hunting of pythons and other undesirable critters on IT's State lands.

Where is the snake infestation? Not out so much on State lands where Billy Joe Bob and Rastus the black part-Seminole swamper are praising Jesus for each 250 dollar skin they get from a shotgunned 10-foot python - the problem is inside the Everglades National Park.

Fernandinande said...

Study: Fifth, in addition to frequenting habitats used by foraging pythons, mammals such as raccoons, opossums, deer, and bobcats may be naive to predation by large snakes. Boid snakes went extinct in the eastern United States during the Miocene, concomitant with other climatic, vegetation, and faunal, [e.g., the rise of colubroid snakes (23)] changes.

Nature is so fickle.

MadisonMan said...

Sarasota County's iguana problem and solution.

Christopher in MA said...

Boid Snake.

Good name for a villain in a John Wayne movie.

Cedarford said...

I'd also note that wild hogs are a big problem in Florida, inc the Everglades.

And less and less people hunt these days, because the costs, restrictions, and liability are high.
We also passed some strict laws to ban Evil commercial hunting after 19th century meat and fowl procurers almost wiped out several species. Then USDA regs on "testing" meat for sale came in. So while you can kill wild hogs, a dozen if you are lucky, you can't sell the dressed carcass to a gourmet restaurant willing to pay 3-4 bucks a pound.
But you CAN donate it under the stupid "Hunters for the Homeless" program to feed winos, junkies, OWS types, and lifestyle welfare mommas.

Except over in Louisiana, Cajuns are like honey badgers. They just don't care. Kill it, sell it on the sly. Sell turtles, snakes, snake parts, lizard parts, alligator parts, deer sex organs and horns to eager salivating Chinese to feed their hokey animal parts medicinal markets

Michael said...

Cedarford: You are right to point out what you did on the Fla regulations. But that does not detract from the Florida regulations themselves which are great fun to read because, like all govt, they have thought of everything. I am particularly pleased that I guessed they would have recommendations for euthanasia that were humane. You cannot pull satire on govt regulations!!

Freeman Hunt said...

If the mammals are about to be gone, that should take care of the snake problem.

Really though, why not hunt them? If people didn't hunt deer around here, we'd be overrun with deer. Come up with a hunting season and open up the Everglades National Park for snake hunting during that time.

traditionalguy said...

Freeman...About the mammals disappearing for snake diet, as a commenter to the most famous breast blog around you should be aware that you are a mammal.

Most of my friends are mammals too.

TomHynes said...

I agree with all the bounty comments. Can we extend that to feral cats, or are they just too damn cute?

I am serious. I am both a member of the California bar and a state licensed trapper.

~N. said...

The snakes are literally fighting with alligators to sit atop the swamp’s food chain.

Yeah. They made a movie about this.

On the one hand, I can see the argument for banning exotic pets altogether. On the other, I'm a huge fan of Fatal Attractions on the Animal Planet. ~shrug~

Personally, I'd pay a whole lotta money for one of these pythons to come clear my building of all those yappy little "apartment" dogs. Nasty, noisy, stinky little beasts.

Freeman Hunt said...

Trad, I'm obviosly referencing the mammals the snakes are eating.

Rusty said...

Michael said...
Rusty: Have you ever encountered a Fish and Game guy in the wild? In a National Park? Next time you do show him all the pretty rocks you have collected and see what he says. Ditto snakes, wildflowers, elk, and so on.



I'm messin with ya.
Yes. I hunt mushrooms with a bunch of em.
The bounty idea is a good one. A year long open season is good too. No license, a resident can take them anywhere, anytime, as many as they can.

paul a'barge said...

But under pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers

who?

Obama (admin) caved to these mutts?

Does Obama have even a shred of hope of ever recovering his balls in this lifetime?

Geoff Matthews said...

Well, even after a python eats a gator, they still aren't safe:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1006_051006_pythoneatsgator.html

DADvocate said...

If people didn't hunt deer around here, we'd be overrun with deer.

Hell, we hunt deer around here and we're still overrun. One ran into the side of my car last week. It hit me, I didn't hit it. No damage, thank goodness.

sonicfrog said...

Oh, that movie is brought to you by the people who did the spectacularly bad Mega Piranha!

There is a twelve minute chase scene in that movie, and the cars involved miraculously change make and model several time during the sequence.

But, I have to say... bicycle-kicking away the piranha menace is one of the all time best worst things I've ever seen in a movie!

Jose_K said...

a bounty now would probably break several dozen Federal environmental laws.
Well, all around the world , hunters are hired to control species out of control. Both natives and invasors.And hire human hunters. In Jamaica, they used moongoses to control rats and:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v63/n1632/abs/063348a0.html
Laws can be amended.

Jose_K said...

But if the real problem is the idiots who release pets into the wild, why not punish them severely enough .. importing endangerd species into the USA is a federal felony as long as I know

Jose_K said...

you can own vicious pit bulls . Not in Miami, Buerlhe is leading a campaign to legalize them with the support of some bloggers

Petunia said...

Don't forget that other fabulous SciFi (NOT SyFy) Channel movie, "Supergator"!

DADvocate said...

importing endangerd species into the USA is a federal felony as long as I know

There is nothing in the article about these snakes being endangered. But, the snakes do threaten other endangered species.

a bounty now would probably break several dozen Federal environmental laws.

If so, it just goes to prove how stupid we've become as a society.

Methadras said...

The trailer was awesome. D-Listers and less galore. How do movies like this ever get financed is a mystery of the universe.

Ralph L said...

How do snakes sit--atop food chains, or anything?

For that matter, how do alligators sit?

~N. said...

Gawd...Supergator! Poor Kelly McGillis.

Oh, how I love rainy Saturday mornings and all those cheesy cable channels.

Synova said...

Let anyone who wants to hunt them, hunt them, #1.

Chip snakes that are sold, #2.

If the snakes have a chip and are found in the wild, let the hunter who found it get a bounty and the owner of record get a fine.

IF laws are going to be passed, those would be my best ideas.

(I own small, native snakes, fwiw.)

Paul said...

We also are getting clobbered by wild hogs.

But no, the 'officials' won't post bounties for their heads.

See there is a simple remedy.

Put a 10 buck a head bounty on the snakes and hogs and no stinken hunting license needed to hunt them, YEAR ROUND.

CrankyProfessor said...

Let the pythons and alligators have South Florida! Let the better reptile win!

SukieTawdry said...

I was in the Everglades a few winters ago when they had record-setting low temperatures and all the gators came to ground. You couldn't go more than a few feet without stepping on one, but I didn't see any snakes. And I would remember a 16-foot python.

So, megapython vs gateroid. Who won?

Is there still a wanted poster on the road to Hana for the pet snake that got loose? Hawaii takes this rogue snake stuff seriously.