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Invasive Nile Monitors Threatening Florida Ecosystem

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June 30, 2011

Invasive Nile Monitors Threatening Florida Ecosystem

By Chad Love

Here's one from the "Are We Gonna Need to Put A Fence Around Florida?" files...not only is Florida quickly becoming the slithery epicenter of giant invasive pythons--now it seems there's a new reptilian threat facing the Sunshine State: giant lizards, with attitude. No, not Godzilla...monitors.

From this story in the Miami Herald:
The Nile Monitor, a dragon look-a-like lizard that grows to more than seven feet in length, has been spotted in West Palm Beach and there are unconfirmed sightings of the lizards in Central Broward. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants residents to report the scary looking reptiles and stay far away from them. “The concern is that these critters cannot only be defensive when cornered, but they also threaten our native species and ecosystem,” said Gabriella Ferraro, an FWC spokesperson. Nile monitors are native to Africa and generally are let go in the wild by pet owners who grow tired of them. They are gaining in Florida’s subtropical climate and this is the time of year when they are most active. Wildlife officials fear the carnivorous, invasive species are spreading in the state’s man-made canals.

“Normally, they’re found near water and they’re pretty good swimmers,’’ Ferraro said. "This is a high-priority species for us," Scott Hardin, coordinator of the FWC’s Exotic Species Coordination Section, said in a statement. "We plan to go after them aggressively to either try to eradicate them or suppress their numbers."

Florida already has a giant snake season, and last year I blogged about the unique Florida cast-n-blast opportunity it provides, but the possibility of adding seven-foot lizards to the mix makes it even more interesting. But what gun to use? What would be your go-to Nile Monitor gun?

Comments (26)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Greenhead wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Seems like you would want to preserve that skin, so a shotgun is out, as well as big bores. A .22 to the head would be perfect, but if they are skittish you might not be able to get too close. I think a standard varmint caliber like the .22-250 would be just about right. Flat shooting to compensate for unknown ranges, little damage to the hide, and accurate enough for head shots if the situation presents itself.

The question is, are you hunting from a boat, or land? Do you want a light rifle you can keep steady in the boat, or something heavier, like your standard prairie dog rifle to go long range from shore?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Swamp People, Season 2!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

If we're wanting to preserve the skin, then I'll take a .223 and wait for the head shots.

Now if we were to make it fun.... I'll take my Hoyt and explosive broadheads. Leave no doubt that it's dead.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bellringer wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Boots on the paw.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I believe the season for evasive species never closes...

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I'm thinking a headshot with a .22mag would be pretty damn effective, especially with hollowpoints.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MATroutslayer wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Scattergun if all you want to do is kill 'em. Maybe some number 5 hi-brass so you can whack em as they're swimming away. Those suckers can move real quick!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kris24 wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

.22 mag solid bullet...no hollow points (wouldn't want to put a big hole in my new boots)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bass bomber wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Florida got some serius problems. Maybe the monitors can help my grandpa with the squirrels.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I like the .223, I do not want to get too close to these suckers, and they appear to move real fast. I have not seen any yet, but I will be looking for sure!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

So is Florida actually making an intelligent decision and letting hunters have a free-for-all on these invasives? I know some places hire a small academic focus group that does...nothing...and gets paid and funded with tax dollars. We'll do it faster and for free. We might even pay to do it!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Duckman1984 wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I'm gonna have to agree with Shane on his post; we already pay to kill feral hogs in most places. Might as well add these and those big snakes to the revenue pool (but cheaply, unlike the unnecessary $1000 hog hunts I have seen). I'd happily pay $10 to put a few (well, many) rounds into some invasive species as long as there's no limit on how many I can kill; they are invasive. As far as caliber, I think I would bring an assortment. I would have my long range gun, my mid-range gun, and my "blast them from ten yards buck shot loaded powstick!" Just joking. I would become very accurate with my blackpowder (.50), my 243, and my 12 gauge.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kenton wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Why are these invasives allowed to enter the country? Florida is being over run by all sorts of exotics. God knows we have too many of laws restricting this or that but I'd definitely support outlawing importing exotics that pose a threat to our wild areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ggmack wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I would go with the mosin nagant with a bayonet to ensure they are dead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

but your not allowed to use centerfire rifle. 12 gauge 3.5 inch goose load?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

.22 mag or .223. let's go hunting!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from twigwood wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I grew up in Africa where these creatures hail from, the smaller ones, can make for fantastic sport angling and will readily take a sminner bait, however landing them can prove to be a problem. They are agressive when cornered and even the smallest ones will inflict a nasty bite. I have been unfortunate enough to land a 6 foot one in a 10 foot boat before, it destroyed every piece of tackle and equipment in the boat. They are also incredibly resilient so my advice would be to forgo the skin and stick with the shotgun because any varmint rifles will only wound them without incredibly lucky/skilled shooting, their brains and circulatory systems are very small. So to round up stick with a shotgun, or land them on a rod and line (with steel trace) and go for the brave but effective club over the head.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from bass bomber wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

mini m14 should work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

My 44 Mag with 250 grain Keith Cast with 21.0 grains of 2400 would work just fine, accurate, awesome to shoot and cheap!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CCMJS wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Good advice twigwood.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sherwinwallece wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Ooh.this is scary.Maybe the authorities should take an urgent action for this.In the last few years, a distant nuisance has breached Florida in growing numbers and is terrorizing the citizens there. Monitor lizards, a type of reptile that is not present in the Americas naturally, have a recognized population in Florida as some have escaped or been released to the wild and have established reproduction populations. Here is the proof: Invasion of monitor lizards in Florida reaching enormous scale.Invasive species is dangerous it can damage all other floras and faunas around us.Lets take a good action for this.It's not too late to make a plan for a wildlife saving activity in this kind of situation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CaptainCatfish wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

It comes down to responsible pet ownership. If someone desperately wants to own a reptile, they should be aware of the responsibilities and the size these animals will reach. There is no way that this population of monitors has reached this size solely from escaped animals. People are letting these things go on purpose. Now there is another exotic species on the loose and on the rise and they must be managed appropriately.

... that being said, I would manage them with a .22 mag.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Fulton wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I bet they taste like chicken...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JOttum wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I think we have the rifle calibers all covered. What I keep thinking is someone should organize Florida "Safaris". Seems like enough exotics are breeding there now, why spend the big bucks to go international when we just need to head to FLA

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JOttum wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I think we have the rifle calibers all covered. What I keep thinking is someone should organize Florida "Safaris". Seems like enough exotics are breeding there now, why spend the big bucks to go international when we just need to head to FLA

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tbonzzz wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Put a bounty on them maybe people will start hunting them same with the snake it has worked on species in the past that have threatened this great nation

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from twigwood wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I grew up in Africa where these creatures hail from, the smaller ones, can make for fantastic sport angling and will readily take a sminner bait, however landing them can prove to be a problem. They are agressive when cornered and even the smallest ones will inflict a nasty bite. I have been unfortunate enough to land a 6 foot one in a 10 foot boat before, it destroyed every piece of tackle and equipment in the boat. They are also incredibly resilient so my advice would be to forgo the skin and stick with the shotgun because any varmint rifles will only wound them without incredibly lucky/skilled shooting, their brains and circulatory systems are very small. So to round up stick with a shotgun, or land them on a rod and line (with steel trace) and go for the brave but effective club over the head.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

So is Florida actually making an intelligent decision and letting hunters have a free-for-all on these invasives? I know some places hire a small academic focus group that does...nothing...and gets paid and funded with tax dollars. We'll do it faster and for free. We might even pay to do it!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from TM wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Swamp People, Season 2!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

If we're wanting to preserve the skin, then I'll take a .223 and wait for the head shots.

Now if we were to make it fun.... I'll take my Hoyt and explosive broadheads. Leave no doubt that it's dead.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Duckman1984 wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I'm gonna have to agree with Shane on his post; we already pay to kill feral hogs in most places. Might as well add these and those big snakes to the revenue pool (but cheaply, unlike the unnecessary $1000 hog hunts I have seen). I'd happily pay $10 to put a few (well, many) rounds into some invasive species as long as there's no limit on how many I can kill; they are invasive. As far as caliber, I think I would bring an assortment. I would have my long range gun, my mid-range gun, and my "blast them from ten yards buck shot loaded powstick!" Just joking. I would become very accurate with my blackpowder (.50), my 243, and my 12 gauge.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kenton wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Why are these invasives allowed to enter the country? Florida is being over run by all sorts of exotics. God knows we have too many of laws restricting this or that but I'd definitely support outlawing importing exotics that pose a threat to our wild areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sherwinwallece wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Ooh.this is scary.Maybe the authorities should take an urgent action for this.In the last few years, a distant nuisance has breached Florida in growing numbers and is terrorizing the citizens there. Monitor lizards, a type of reptile that is not present in the Americas naturally, have a recognized population in Florida as some have escaped or been released to the wild and have established reproduction populations. Here is the proof: Invasion of monitor lizards in Florida reaching enormous scale.Invasive species is dangerous it can damage all other floras and faunas around us.Lets take a good action for this.It's not too late to make a plan for a wildlife saving activity in this kind of situation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greenhead wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Seems like you would want to preserve that skin, so a shotgun is out, as well as big bores. A .22 to the head would be perfect, but if they are skittish you might not be able to get too close. I think a standard varmint caliber like the .22-250 would be just about right. Flat shooting to compensate for unknown ranges, little damage to the hide, and accurate enough for head shots if the situation presents itself.

The question is, are you hunting from a boat, or land? Do you want a light rifle you can keep steady in the boat, or something heavier, like your standard prairie dog rifle to go long range from shore?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bellringer wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Boots on the paw.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I'm thinking a headshot with a .22mag would be pretty damn effective, especially with hollowpoints.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MATroutslayer wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Scattergun if all you want to do is kill 'em. Maybe some number 5 hi-brass so you can whack em as they're swimming away. Those suckers can move real quick!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kris24 wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

.22 mag solid bullet...no hollow points (wouldn't want to put a big hole in my new boots)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bass bomber wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

Florida got some serius problems. Maybe the monitors can help my grandpa with the squirrels.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I like the .223, I do not want to get too close to these suckers, and they appear to move real fast. I have not seen any yet, but I will be looking for sure!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ggmack wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I would go with the mosin nagant with a bayonet to ensure they are dead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

but your not allowed to use centerfire rifle. 12 gauge 3.5 inch goose load?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

.22 mag or .223. let's go hunting!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bass bomber wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

mini m14 should work

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

My 44 Mag with 250 grain Keith Cast with 21.0 grains of 2400 would work just fine, accurate, awesome to shoot and cheap!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CCMJS wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Good advice twigwood.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CaptainCatfish wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

It comes down to responsible pet ownership. If someone desperately wants to own a reptile, they should be aware of the responsibilities and the size these animals will reach. There is no way that this population of monitors has reached this size solely from escaped animals. People are letting these things go on purpose. Now there is another exotic species on the loose and on the rise and they must be managed appropriately.

... that being said, I would manage them with a .22 mag.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Fulton wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I bet they taste like chicken...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JOttum wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I think we have the rifle calibers all covered. What I keep thinking is someone should organize Florida "Safaris". Seems like enough exotics are breeding there now, why spend the big bucks to go international when we just need to head to FLA

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JOttum wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

I think we have the rifle calibers all covered. What I keep thinking is someone should organize Florida "Safaris". Seems like enough exotics are breeding there now, why spend the big bucks to go international when we just need to head to FLA

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tbonzzz wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Put a bounty on them maybe people will start hunting them same with the snake it has worked on species in the past that have threatened this great nation

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 42 weeks ago

I believe the season for evasive species never closes...

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment