CARTER: Great Fla. Python Hunt shows low tally but potential for ecological insights

February 20, 2013

Education, Tourism

I got some chuckles early on out of Florida’s plan to throw open the Everglades to anyone who wanted to try their hand at capturing a Burmese python. I also figured the cash incentive would draw Bubbas from all over who were short on both beer money and kicks.

University of Florida researchers hold a 162-pound Burmese python captured in Everglades National Park. The 15-foot snake had just eaten a 6-foot alligator.

University of Florida researchers hold a 162-pound Burmese python captured in Everglades National Park. The 15-foot snake had just eaten a 6-foot alligator.

As odd as the whole thing seemed at the time, the Great Everglades Python Hunt has turned out to be a boon for the folks who study the ecology of the ’Glades and the impact the non-native constrictor snakes have had. In time, the hunt may lead to increased knowledge of just how the invasion of the pythons are altering the ecological balance of the River of Grass, a remaining wild frontier you should visit if you haven’t already.

The Florida Python Challenge ended last weekend with the round-up of a mere 68 snakes, Florida Trend magazine reports. Officials held the snake hunt because the pythons have multiplied into the thousands in the Everglades and have become a threat to native species.

“We’ve never collected so many pythons in such a short period of time. It really is an unprecedented sample,” Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife at the University of Florida who helped organize the challenge, told ABC News.

“It provides us with a sort of autopsy of the wildlife. There’s going to be recommendations coming out of this that will help us be able to remove more snakes from the wild.”

The next stage of the research hinges on the pythons’ instinct for love.

The two men who caught the largest Burmese python collected a $1,000 prize. The giant snake was released back into the Everglades. And Florida wildlife experts expect the python — outfitted with a pair of transmitters — to show them where to find the thousands of snakes hiding in the wild and lead them to breeding females.

Two other pythons were also implanted with transmitters and sent back into the wild.

“It’s breeding time and females attract males and we have three eager young lads sitting out there with radio transmitters on them who can lead us to the breeding female and we can catch her,”

Yes indeed, love truly does make the world go round.

 

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One Response to “CARTER: Great Fla. Python Hunt shows low tally but potential for ecological insights”

  1. Julia O'Neal Says:

    Good going! These guys destroy all kinds of native fauna. Thanks for your help!

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