July 16, 2009
Discussion Topic: On Hunting Pythons in Florida
By Dave Hurteau
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s request for a massive hunt of an estimated 100,000 pythons roaming the Everglades in Florida has been approved by Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist.
Crist has asked wildlife officials to start trapping pythons immediately. This comes a couple of weeks after a 2-year-old girl was strangled by a pet Burmese python in central Florida.
From the Miami Herald:
"I was distressed to see the death that occurred recently," [Crist] said. "It is important that we take action now to ensure a safe and healthy future for Florida's native wildlife and habitats in the Everglades."
A spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Pat Behnke, said about 10 hunters would be permitted initially. They will be allowed to begin hunting the snakes Friday, initially focusing on state lands south of Lake Okeechobee.
Behnke said only the most experienced herpetologists will be allowed to track the Burmese pythons that will be euthanized when found. The hunters are not allowed to use firearms or traps.
"We want to make sure we've got the best people out in the field," she said. "They are going to be providing us with valuable information."
The Burmese pythons captured by qualified herpetologists will be euthanized.
These snakes can grow to be more than 30 feet long and about 300 pounds. Although the nonpoisonous snakes are known for squeezing their prey to death, their jaws can also have up to 200 backward curving teeth, as well as teeth on the roof of the mouth.
Was the government right in preceded with the snake hunt Nelson proposed? Or would it be a good excuse—and would it be deemed safe enough—to open a season for sport hunters?