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A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL

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A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL
Shows how truly futile trying to rid the state of the snakes is. MAYBE something could have been done 20 years or so ago when the state recognized there was a problem and they just sat on their thumbs. That's a pretty common theme for the state of FL and invasives.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/...e-florida-180972534/


Worth reading if you have the time and want to sit down and learn something new.

Dani
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Dani,
The article is exceptional. As I said in a recent post, by moving from Hilton Head to Raleigh, I have given up gators and water moccasins (supposedly) and kept rattlesnakes and copperheads.

I'm afraid that fishing or hunting in the presence of pythons is a little beyond the comfort zone of this boy who grew up in southern Illinois.

It is a sad fact that the Everglades aren't what they used to be and the primary culprit is us.

I think this was in a Pogo comic strip: "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

I'm glad you are on this forum. You bring an interesting perspective and experience that is different than most of us.

Larry
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Wow. Really interesting. It?s amazing they can disappear like they do. It?s really ashame

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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
That's an incredibly enlightening article Dani! FL has a serious problem, of course, as usual it's a man made problem.

Living in SC I have a healthy respect for reptiles, both venomous and non venomous. We don't have to deal with constrictors here tho! Nearly 30 years ago I worked in a taxidermy shop and the owner was a snake hunter, one of the best actually! I would arrive to open the shop and be greeted by the buzz of rattling from Canebrakes and Diamondbacks and snake boxes full of Copperheads. (We kept the venomous snakes under lock and key inside the taxidermy shop) We euthanized a 17' Burmese python by putting it in a freezer. It was a "pet" and had oral cancer of some sort and stopped feeding. I skinned and fleshed that snake to be made into leather and it was amazing at how big it was. It would be absolutely terrifying to encounter one of these creatures in the wild. The one I cleaned had to be 180 lbs.
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Very interesting--and depressing--stuff. The near elimination of small mammals speaks to the amount of ecological change this introduction has caused.

It seems the only hope for addressing invasive species impacts is prevention. Early and aggressive intervention can be somewhat effective in a few very limited cases, but it's a treatment, not a cure.

"At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant."
— Aldo Leopold
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Thanks for posting this Dani. Don?t know if this is a problem that can be fixed or not. I would not want to run across one of these snakes ever. Scare the crap out of me they would.

Mark
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Dani

Looks pretty grim that the snakes can be eradicated and mammal populations and biological balances return to historical levels. Sad.

Eric
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Very interesting read Dani. I am wondering what keeps Burmese python populations in check in their native habitat?
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Thanks Larry. I love this site and it is the only site I have stuck with through thick and thin. Lots of neat stuff to learn here without feeling like an idiot.

I would LOVE to have an incredibly hard winter down here. One where I worry about if my pipes will freeze or not or if my well tank needs more insulating. One where there is a thick layer of ice in the everglades for several weeks. Because more than likely that will be the only way the snake numbers will be reduced significantly. And if the cold lasted a month that would be even better.

Steve said that he saw an 8-10ft python sunning on the edge of a canal near him. The only legal way that snake could have been removed was if someone was in the water or on a boat in the canal and saw it and they decided to kill it. Him seeing it, him having a 22 in his truck, he could not have legally killed it from the bank or road. He would have gone to jail if he had decided to do something about it. And the snake he saw was at least 100 miles north of lake Okeechobee. When you have rules that prohibit the killing of invasives like pythons except in the most limited of circumstances, then you know we will never get ahead of them.

As far as natural predators for pythons, according to wikipedia the burmese python is listed as vulnerable because of human over harvesting. Perhaps FL would be well served to offer some python poachers from Asia a job.
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Dani wrote:
As far as natural predators for pythons, according to wikipedia the burmese python is listed as vulnerable because of human over harvesting. Perhaps FL would be well served to offer some python poachers from Asia a job.


and those poachers are most likely selling them to the importers who sell them to the people who then dump them Whistle




"Just because the man does not offer you a drink Hastings, does not mean he is automatically guilty of other crimes" Agatha Christie's Poirot
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Well Rick, FINALLY after knowing for years and years and years that the state had a problem with pythons, the state finally banned importing them just a couple years ago. If I understand the laws correctly, it is still apparently okay to breed ones that are here and sell them. And it is okay to have them as pets, just as long as they are not imported. Pretty crazy eh?
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Dani wrote:
Thanks Larry. I love this site and it is the only site I have stuck with through thick and thin. Lots of neat stuff to learn here without feeling like an idiot.

I would LOVE to have an incredibly hard winter down here. One where I worry about if my pipes will freeze or not or if my well tank needs more insulating. One where there is a thick layer of ice in the everglades for several weeks. Because more than likely that will be the only way the snake numbers will be reduced significantly. And if the cold lasted a month that would be even better.

Steve said that he saw an 8-10ft python sunning on the edge of a canal near him. The only legal way that snake could have been removed was if someone was in the water or on a boat in the canal and saw it and they decided to kill it. Him seeing it, him having a 22 in his truck, he could not have legally killed it from the bank or road. He would have gone to jail if he had decided to do something about it. And the snake he saw was at least 100 miles north of lake Okeechobee. When you have rules that prohibit the killing of invasives like pythons except in the most limited of circumstances, then you know we will never get ahead of them.

As far as natural predators for pythons, according to wikipedia the burmese python is listed as vulnerable because of human over harvesting. Perhaps FL would be well served to offer some python poachers from Asia a job.


I have never understood the protections on them. There is/was a closed season, as well. Have any idea on the rationale there?
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
No clue on the rationale Tod. The snake that Steve saw, he would have been discharging a firearm from what is considered a road or road shoulder and that is a universal no-no in the state. But then it is also on Water Management property so I believe they could get him for felony trespass as well (if they wanted to be jerks about it), even though the road is heavily travelled. Steve was talking with an FWC (our game and fish) LEO here on the day he saw that snake and they went round and round on what kind of sense it makes. The LEO agreed with Steve on the idiocy and told him that if he were in a boat, it would be okay to dispatch the snake.

That's like with Purple Swamphens down here. They are spreading north. They are like purple gallinules on steroids. There is also a native population of them in one of the US Territories in the Pacific so they are covered under the migratory bird treaty and cannot be hunted in FL. They also appear to have a detrimental effect on native birds. And they are spreading north. We see them pretty regularly now in the marshes near Steve. It used to be it was a south of Lake Okeechobee thing. FWC at least has wanted to try to get them added to the list for the hunting season. There was even a pilot season done at one of the Stormwater Treatment Areas that I got to participate in. There was some concern that hunters would mistake them for purple gallinules. There was not one single gallinule killed during that season. It was fun and IMO anyone who mistakes them for a gallinule is a fool because they are three times the size of a gallinule. Unfortunately, to add them to our duck season there has to be a lot of lawyering done because of their status on the migratory bird treaty and it just is not high on the list of priorities for USFWS. Which in some ways I get. But there is a chance to do something about them now, at least add them to the regular duck season, and even better put no limit on them, and people will hunt them. Their populations could be controlled, perhaps even reduced quite a bit. It isn't a priority right now though and in a world where time is money and there is only so much money for environmental agencies, I get not pursuing something that isn't a priority.

I imagine that is exactly what happened with they pythons and lion fish. It wasn't a priority and the populations continued spreading. Now the state has begun trying to do something about it because it has finally become a priority, at the cost of 90-99% of the small mammal population in the case of the pythons. Who knows if it will even be effective. I have heard that there is some talk, and maybe it has gone through, of allowing the licensed python hunters to allow them to use their airboats within the vast no motor zone of Everglades National Park. Not sure that went through or if it was just talk.

Some of the Wildlife management areas in south florida do allow year round harvest of non native reptiles (pythons aren't FLs only issue for non native reptiles) with no bag or size limit. I don't think you even need a hunting license for them either. But you can't use firearms outside of normal hunting seasons or within explicitly stated dates. You can use crossbows though. So there is now opportunity for year round hunting of the pythons on some wildlife management areas.

As I said earlier, probably the most effective thing for reducing the python population will be a multi week or whole month hard freeze in South Florida. It won't kill all of the snakes and iguanas but it would put a big dent in the populations. And MAYBE it would give us a chance to get a handle on them. And maybe it would give the everglades a chance to recover the small mammal populations.

Sadly, a freeze like that would be detrimental to many other south florida species (like snook). But realistically, it will likely be the only way to have a chance at getting a handle on the snakes.
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Crazy stuff right there. Thanks for sharing that info/experience.
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
 Not my cup of tea, no duck hunting there either...
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Dani wrote:
Well Rick, FINALLY after knowing for years and years and years that the state had a problem with pythons, the state finally banned importing them just a couple years ago. If I understand the laws correctly, it is still apparently okay to breed ones that are here and sell them. And it is okay to have them as pets, just as long as they are not imported. Pretty crazy eh?



hard to believe other states are as dysfunctional as ***** - (others can fill that in with where ever you live)

NY spends tons to attempt to control the invasive purple loosestrife in wetlands, but allow it to be sold for landscaping




"Just because the man does not offer you a drink Hastings, does not mean he is automatically guilty of other crimes" Agatha Christie's Poirot

Last edited by:

Rick L: Jul 15, 2019, 4:50 PM
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Yes the regulations are crazy sometimes. Shame we have done this to so many places. I constantly fight the European starlings and the English sparrows around my house and farms, trying to get the bluebirds to come back and nest again but they keep getting run off by these non native species.

In NC they are trying to bring back the red wolf population, which is a failed attempt since the invasion of coyotes so now we just have half breeds running around and all these PETA organizations are just causing more problems about it.




Benjamin Pendleton
Northeast N.C.
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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Interesting read, Dani. Thanks for posting.

I read through the "comments" section that followed the article, and got a good laugh out of this statement:

"Easy solution. Tell the Cajuns that they taste like chicken, the bag limit is 2, and they are responsible for Dale Earnheart's death. Problem solved in 24 months!"


MLBob

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....Here's to Joe Wooster, who made me realize that the useful could and should be beautiful; and who firmly believed that decoy carvers were the last free men in America.

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Re: A long but very interesting read on the python scourge in FL In reply to
Thanks for that article, Dani. I can tell you that if the Everglades happened to be the only place in North America to hunt ducks, I would sell my Benelli Nova with the bent barrel in a heartbeat. I still enjoyed reading about those snakes. Let's hope they can get a handle on it some day prior to losing species that have been there forever.
Al