Invasive pythons wiping out native Everglades animals

 Invasive pythons wiping out native Everglades animals

U.S. clamps ban on pythons, yellow anaconda

(Reuters) - A slithering, surging population of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades, many of them escaped or abandoned pets, appears to be eating its way through many animals native to the sensitive wetlands, according to a new study.

Researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found what they characterized as "severe declines" in the population of small and mid-sized native mammals in the 1.5 million-acre national park and linked it to the growing presence of Burmese pythons.

The study, the first to document the ecological effects of the invasive species on the Everglades, was released on Monday.

The giant constrictors, which commonly grow to be more than 16-feet long, are not native to the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and home to a number of rare and endangered species.

But they are popular and legal pets in the United States. Some escape. Some are released by owners who panic as their baby

snakes quickly mature into giant, dangerous adults.

The pythons have been what scientists call "an established invasive species" in the Everglades, apex predators that occasionally prey on the American alligator and the Florida panther.

The python's impact has been dramatic on the population of smaller mammals, including raccoons, opossums, marsh and cottontail rabbits, foxes and bobcats, which have dropped precipitously in recent years, researchers said.

The researchers collected their information by conducting nearly a decade of night-time road surveys inside the park and in similar habitats outside it, where they counted both live animals sightings as well as road kill.

They also looked at records of road-killed mammals from previous surveys done by National Park Service rangers in the 1990s, before the pythons were common in the Everglades.

In all, the researchers drove nearly 40,000 miles between 2003 and 2011 and conducted more than 300 nights of observations.

Their findings: In areas outside the Everglades, where the pythons have not established themselves, small, furry creatures abound. Inside the park, not so much.

In fact, in southern end of the Everglades, where the pythons have been established the longest, researchers said raccoon sightings have dropped 99.3 percent, while sightings of opossum have dropped 98.9 percent and bobcat sightings have fallen 87.5 percent.

Researchers did not detect a single rabbit -- dead or alive -- once inside the park during the nine-year study. Nuisance calls involving raccoons used to light up the park service's switchboard, researchers said. Since 2005, not a single park visitor has called to report a nuisance raccoon, according to the study.

A number of water birds -- grebes, herons and the federally endangered wood stork -- also appear to be falling to python predation, the researchers said.

Because the animals that have disappeared over the past decade come from such different taxonomic and trophic groups, the researchers said it was unlikely a disease outbreak accounted for the decline.

"The magnitudes of these declines," the researchers wrote, "underscores the apparent incredible density of pythons in the (Everglades) and justifies intensive investigation into how the addition of a novel apex predators affects overall ecosystem processes."

The study did not focus on ways of reversing the python's impact on the Everglades. Experts at the U.S. Geological Survey, which helped pay for the study, said the odds of eradicating the pythons now that they have established themselves in the park are "very low."

Support for the research was also provided by Davidson College, Duke Energy, the J.E. and Marjorie B. Pittman Foundation, the Center for Forest Sustainability at Auburn University, and the National Park Service.

(Reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune)

27 Comments

3 years 13 weeks ago, 2:01 PM

Builtf0rdtough

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yep, all these assholes who want exotic pets let them go when they get too big....bet they dont know its a felony.

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 2:14 PM

HampsterW

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To little too late,

they breed like hell and thrive in that climate, I wonder how they get along with the gators? (in edit) I missed the part where they prey on the gators.

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 2:35 PM

greg az

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This is the same thing as the Wolf introduction.. Exact same thing.. no predators to control the number.. Only difference is the wolfs appeal to inviro types romantic illusion of "beauty"..

I saw a long report on this.. This part is unbelievable.. Robt.. the decline in your deers is something like 83%.. they had a list taken over four years of the wildlife that had decreased in number.. some were higher than that.. rabbits..(again according to this news report) were down by close to 100% ..

Can you imagine how much food something that big has to take in everyday to survive.. your right it's a felony.. Hey why couldn't you use your LE degree to work for FL wildlife.. or can you..

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 2:59 PM

tallguy007

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gators vs snakes

last yr or the yr b 4 they had a photo from down fromm the glads of a BIG snake eat a gator and the gator rip the snake in half and both died,Gator was so post to be 6 footer and its claws rip the snake as it went down.Now Florida waz u 2 have a lisc to hunt these dam BIG snakes lol.If I c 1 BANG BANG BANG BANG do not care if I got a lisc nor not !!!! They also have people try to catch them by hand LOL LOL dum is dum ,also it was on MSN news that soem thinks we should raise these snakes to eat lol " HEY BABE GO DOWN TO THE WALMART AND GET 8 FOOT OF SNAKE FOR THE GRILL LET THE PARTY BEGIN LOL

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:09 PM

HampsterW

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Hunting snakes....

I would prefer a 12ga full of 'buck shot', that would do 'em and quick! FL needs to use gun enthusiasts to it's advantage, FL supplies the air boats and ammo and we will do the rest......Make a 'dent' in the population anyhow......My Winchester 1300 is ready to go and I have three weeks of vacation time....lol

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:17 PM

greg az

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This is to good not to quote.. hang on everybody here goes..

waz u 2 have a lisc to hunt these dam BIG snakes lol.If I c 1 BANG BANG BANG BANG do not care if I got a lisc nor not !!!!

I've been sitting out west of ya here in AZ. saying that over and over.. more i say it the more since it makes, and the funnier it gets.. BANG BANG BANG BANG.. That sumbitch is dead..

" HEY BABE GO DOWN TO THE WALMART AND GET 8 FOOT OF SNAKE FOR THE GRILL LET THE PARTY BEGIN" LOL

Please don't ever leave us brother TG..You're one funny dude..

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:25 PM

samD

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They do have organized hunts for them. Airboat, Hamp, really? All we need is some waders and away we go. I'll join you with my 1300 and lots of 00 buck.

3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:42 PM

HampsterW

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I'll shoot from higher ground, I don't want to be at a 16' python's level if you know what I mean. lol

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 5:11 PM

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lucky numbers could be kept at just barely sustaining.
You think?

iyaoyas
3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:33 PM

greg az

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I was thinking about this.. Im sure an "enterprising" lad could make some serious bucks.. Not on the bounty, but on the skin.. That would be a hunt thats right all the way around.. Good for the ecosystem (dont believe i said that ..sorry) good for FL.. Good for the Snake.. come on, no wild snake death is a good one, unless run over by a car.. And a chance to make some good bucks.. that being said.. SAM.. your going to go wading with crocks...

Hey Tall Guy.. You seen Sam... "nope... but when i was doing my BLAM BLAM BLAM.. I thought i saw his waders float by..

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 3:59 PM

LLE

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one VERY cold winter will not only destroy the citrus crops, but also most of the increase in big snake reproduction, and many existing snakes, because they are not biologically fitted for low temperatures. I would hate for orange juice prices to increase significantly, but on the other hand maybe a couple of cold winters will kill all of those sumbitches.

Too old to fight, Too old to run, guess that's why I carry a gun! "would someone show this asshole the way out of town".[Rabbi Avram Belinski-aka "The Frisco Kid"]
3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:23 PM

tallguy007

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Florida weather

dose not get that cold and has not had a cold christmas in a while. Plus they adapt to the weather south Florida dose not really get to the 50's. Plus finding the dam things? have to use bait like the old days ( neighbors dog,wife g/f brat kid boss) when snake goes to eat done,They use to put a goat or pig in a pen and leave it for days the snake could get in threw the bars but after it ate done................................

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 7:59 PM

LLE

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and what does "that cold" mean? I have lived in South FL, Central FL, and Northwest FL, and I can tell you even in South FL we had temps around freezing in Jan, Feb and March and Nov. and Dec. In Central FL--forget it -- did you ever drive to work in the morning and have ice on the Palm trees!!?? and Northwest----would you believe Zero to 20 degrees F?? You don't have to find them and kill them in that kind of chill spike. They either get sluggish and are food for some other animal, or die, and that means little or no reproduction, in addition to good meals for some hungry Everglades denizens.

Too old to fight, Too old to run, guess that's why I carry a gun! "would someone show this asshole the way out of town".[Rabbi Avram Belinski-aka "The Frisco Kid"]
3 years 13 weeks ago, 8:25 PM

daisycutter

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freeze my buttoff mornings in March, I was not there for the coldest weather, February. That's why the snakes are not moving north.

iyaoyas
3 years 13 weeks ago, 4:01 PM

HampsterW

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blooded, start stocking up on SunnyD like we do ammo and hope for cold...lol
Off to walk the pooch, be back in a few.

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:16 PM

Builtf0rdtough

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I could have sworn that wolves were not invasive species to north America....they are native to the north west....atleast I was under the impression that they were native.....

"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy"-Winston Churchill
3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:49 PM

greg az

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As to the native thing.. Yes sir.. your 100% correct. The issue that i was making comparison with the Wolf had to do with its place on the food chain now as opposed to then and the fact. and it is that when wolfs ruled before they didn't have slow cows.. they had fast bison..

Got your point tho, and correct.. wana hug...lol.. Did you get the part about using that LE degree in some form of wild life management.. I see game and fish here that are armed so guessing your academy credits would work there as well.. You ever considered it.. You have an interest in wildlife, a degree from LE academy. Just saying a dream job for a lot of people, my son-n-law included who does not have the qualifications you do.. By the way im still keeping my end of the 30 day deal..

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3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:23 PM

HampsterW

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Wolves are native to

North America, horses are not for instance....FWIW

Change you can truly believe in comes from the barrel of a gun---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ron Paul 2012----Vote the bastards out!---------------------------------
3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:26 PM

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Hunting pythons
During established hunting seasons, licensed hunters can remove pythons and other conditional reptiles (snakes and lizards) from Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, Rotenberger WMA, Holey Land WMA and Big Cypress WMA. To participate in removing pythons during established hunting seasons, a hunting license and wildlife management area permit are required by state rule and statute, plus any additionally required permits or stamps, depending on the season (muzzleloading permit, quota hunt permit, duck stamp, etc.).

While not required, FWC encourages hunters to report all harvested pythons. Reports can be made online or by calling, toll-free, 866-392-4286. Conditional reptiles such as pythons must be euthanized by hunters on site. Hunters may sell the hide and meat (Note: Burmese pythons from Everglades National Park have been found to have very high levels of mercury and may not be recommended for human consumption), thus providing a type of "bounty."

■WMA Seasons and Regulations
■Identify Pythons
Python Permit Program
FWC issues python permits for capturing pythons on Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, Rotenberger WMA and Holey Land WMAa outside hunting season. Permit holders may also capture pythons on certain properties managed by the South Florida Water Management District. Applicants must be Florida residents, possess a digital camera and GPS unit, and have experience capturing wild snakes, handling aggressive snakes and working in remote areas.

Permit holders may sell the hide and meat (Note: Burmese pythons from Everglades National Park have been found to have very high levels of mercury and may not be recommended for human consumption), thus providing a type of compensation.

All conditional reptiles and tegus may be taken under this permit. The snakes can be captured by hand, with nets or snares, or with firearms on some properties. Pythons may be euthanized onsite by humane methods, deposited at a veterinary office for euthanizing by a veterinarian, deposited with approved recipients for euthanization or transported to an approved facility to be used in research. All python removal permits expire Dec. 31 each year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Applicant Requirements:
■Be Florida resident
■Possess a digital camera and a GPS unit
■Have experience capturing wild snakes
■Have experience handling large constrictors
■Be knowledgeable about proper and humane methods of euthanizing reptiles
■Have experience working in remote areas
Permit Requirements:
■Photograph and mark GPS locations of captured snakes
■Photograph and describe stomach contents of euthanized snakes
■File reports with the FWC within 36 hours of capture
How to apply
■Application Nuisance python trappers
Nuisance trappers may trap and humanely euthanize pythons on private property without a permit (landowner permission is required). Trappers that wish to transport live pythons captured on private lands to a veterinary facility to be euthanized or to a licensed facility need to obtain a conditional species permit for transport only. This permit does not allow for possession of the python, but does allow the animal to be transported to an approved destination. Applications are available online at on the Conditional, Prohibited or Nonnative Species permit page. Pythons captured on private lands may not be released. For more information on wildlife assistance and nuisance wildlife, visit our Wildlife Assistance/Nuisance Wildlife website.

Burmese Python Information
■Burmese pythons in Florida

3 years 13 weeks ago, 7:36 PM

daisycutter

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They want very much to be rid of the snakes so fling the doors open to anyone from anywhere in the world, point in the direction the snake hunters need to go, pat them on the ass and say "good luck amigo!"
(Tell the Chinese the snakes taste like cat!)

Makes no sense to restrict anyone from taking them out.

iyaoyas
3 years 13 weeks ago, 6:37 PM

tallguy007

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THE TURTH

Applicant Requirements:
■Be Florida resident ( get a state id use motel address as home or bar)
■Possess a digital camera and a GPS unit ( every cell phone has this even one u find)
■Have experience capturing wild snakes ( every guy dose " Rosie Palmer")
■Have experience handling large constrictors ( read last answer)
■Be knowledgeable about proper and humane methods of euthanizing reptiles ( if you can shoot a gun,use a knife,ax,stomp your boot hard)
■Have experience working in remote areas ( your back yard if it has no pool hot tube or flower
bed )
Permit Requirements:
■Photograph and mark GPS locations of captured snakes ( strip clubs will work)
■Photograph and describe stomach contents of euthanized snakes ( eat @ taco bell ur throw up that will do)

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
3 years 13 weeks ago, 8:26 PM

Saint J.M. Browning

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This reminds me

of that Simpson's episode where they introduce a frog to Australia and it goes crazy so they introduce a snake, and it goes crazy, so they introduce a bird, et al ad nauseum. In the end, they are flying off looking out at a continent in shambles.

"I don't think Hank done it this way" - Waylon
3 years 13 weeks ago, 8:57 PM

greg az

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Tall Guy has me rolling tonight.. to Witt;

humane methods of euthanizing reptiles... .shoot a gun,use a knife,ax,stomp your boot hard)
experience working in remote areas..... ......your back yard if it has no pool hot tube or flowers
GPS locations of captured snakes .............( strip clubs will work)
stomach contents of euthanized snakes .....( eat @ taco bell ur throw up that will do)

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
3 years 13 weeks ago, 9:01 PM

Saint J.M. Browning

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Greg

yeah, this has been a good thread all around. How you doing, bud?

"I don't think Hank done it this way" - Waylon
3 years 13 weeks ago, 9:25 PM

greg az

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Things are still a lot more hectic than i would prefer.. but catching up.. Thanks for taking care of the POD's my friend.. Gloria is on the mend health wise.. i never came down with anything but a good case of "work"...ECKKK.. retired geezres aren't supposed to have to say or even think that word.. Sure like the way the edited browning thread worked out.

How bout yourself sainted one.. whats on the agenda for your super bowl.. you guys having a party or what.. G and i are heading down to watch with the son-n-law whos the hunter..

Guys.. This thread is all ADD'd up anyway.. does anyone have major s bowl plans..

a man has to hold his word, hold his beliefs, and hold a good sight picture.
3 years 13 weeks ago, 9:45 PM

Saint J.M. Browning

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Greg

Just caught this. Good to hear y'all are getting better. For the Bowl, we're heading to a friend's place for a watching party. I don't know if I mentioned it before or not, but they're good friends and good people and their son got a full ride to Miami (OH) on a football scholarship. He's a good kid, but annoying as everything comes easy for him. ;)

I'm gonna grab a bite real quick. hadn't eaten yet. Wanted to knock one back and see how my online buds were doing first. Be back in a few.

"I don't think Hank done it this way" - Waylon
3 years 12 weeks ago, 12:47 PM

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with all our "advances" in genic engineering can't we make or turn on or off a genetic switch that will be dormant in animals we release,and their offspring when only one parent carries the gene,but will make offspring of 2 carrier animals sterile?it wouldn't take long to start seeing a decline in the population of these animals if it were possible,but you have to put more eating machines out there,and thats counter productive in its own way.

CRY HAVOC and let slip the dogs of war!
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