Saturday, December 22, 2012

Florida to tackle invasive species the fun way--hunt them!

Scientific American: Why Florida’s Giant Python Hunting Contest Is a Bad Idea
By Kate Wong
December 7, 2012
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced that it will hold a month-long competition starting January 12, 2013,  “to see who can harvest the longest and the most Burmese pythons” from designated public lands in southern Florida. The goal is to raise awareness about the threat this invasive species poses to the Everglades ecosystem, and to generate “additional information on the python population in south Florida and enhance our research and management efforts.” Python hunting permit holders, as well as members of the general public, are invited to compete for the cash prizes of $1500 for the most pythons killed and $1000 for the longest python killed.

The Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world. (In August researchers at the University of Florida reported the capture of a 17.7-foot-long specimen—the biggest one ever found in the state.) And there’s good evidence that these constricting snakes, which are native to Asia, are bad news for the Everglades ecosystem. In January researchers published a paper implicating the python in the dramatic decline of raccoons, bobcats and other mammals there.

But allowing anyone over the age of 18 to register and go out and hunt giant snakes on public lands? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, this is Florida, which is known for the crazy news it produces.  As an expatriate Californian, I'm perversely glad that it had the insane reputation that it does; it makes California, especially southern California, look good.

As for the results of this hunt, I expect they'll end up in next year's edition of The 40 Most Insane Things That Happened In Florida.  I told you, the news out of Florida makes California look sane.

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