Florida’s Pythons to Face ‘Crowd’ of Hunters
February 26, 2010
The state of Florida is apparently at the end of its rope in terms of how to deal with the python population explosion in the Everglades:
Local authorities tried all kinds of population control. They captured females, implanted them with the snake equivalent of LoJacks, then released into the wild—tracking them to their love lairs, in hope of snagging the lurking lotharios. There was a brief attempt to train a beagle named Python Pete to track the snakes. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat, has introduced federal legislation to ban the importation of nine big snakes into the country, including the Burmese Python. And the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tried government regulation—imposing licensing requirements limiting the sale of pythons and other scaley nuisances. Authorities say there are only 137 licenses statewide—a figure that grossly undercounts the number of snakes in homes. There’s even a yearly amnesty day, when owners of illegal or unlicensed exotics can turn in their pets—no questions asked. In its fifth year, a few dozen pythons, measuring three to 10 feet, have been handed over.
There are an estimated 30,000 pythons roaming around southern FL. Last year, the state gave out 19 licenses to hunt pythons but that didn’t make a dent in the population. (They thought it would?). This year, it’s open season:
On March 6, they’re declaring open season on the giant pythons, opening up 736,000 prime snake-hunting acres to any Floridian with a hunting license. People from as far away as Australia want in on the action. For six weeks, an expected crowd of hundreds will get to take their best shot at bagging the beasts.