Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: Florida's Python Hunt Unlikely to Have Good Results

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: Florida's Python Hunt Unlikely to Have Good Results

Article excerpt

Will you please comment on the python hunt being held in Florida?

I have good news and bad news for anyone interested in the state- sponsored hunt for this invasive species. The bad news is that you have missed the deadline to register for the Jan. 12 opening day. The good news is that you can still pay the $25 entry fee and participate in the contest, which ends Feb. 10. You can then walk around in a swamp looking for something you are unlikely to see. You might prefer a destination in southern Florida, where you will be sure to enjoy yourself.

But before you decide to opt for Disney World or South Beach instead of the Everglades, keep in mind the rewards being offered in the python hunt: $1,500 for whoever catches the most pythons; $1,000 for the longest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's stated purpose is "to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife."

Nowhere is it stated, or even implied, that letting hundreds of untrained citizens armed with captive bolt pistols and other firearms roam southern Florida's wildlife management areas will make the smallest dent in Florida's massive python population. To get details about Python Challenge 2013, check out www.python

challenge.org. Meanwhile, I have four predictions about this absurd exercise:

n Most of the participants will never see a python in the wild. More than 1,000 people have signed up to hunt for these huge snakes, and in the first three days, only 11 pythons were found. Eleven! This translates to the capture of not even one python per day for every 250 people.

Five days after the competition opened, only 21 had been brought in. That's still only about four a day. Not so good if you are trying to reduce the invasive Burmese python population, which is estimated at more than 100,000 in the Everglades. And when the next batch of 60 to 80 eggs hatches out, the python hunters will have fallen even further behind. …

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