The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Florida's Everglades: 106 Invasive Burmese Snakes Were Killed, with the Longest Measuring 15 Feet

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Florida's Everglades: 106 Invasive Burmese Snakes Were Killed, with the Longest Measuring 15 Feet

After a month-long state-sanctioned hunt for invasive Burmese Pythons in Florida, 106 snakes were killed, with the longest measuring 15 feet.

This year's annual Python Challenge enlisted more than 1,000 people from 29 states to cull the python population between January  16, - February 14.

A team of four killed a nearly a third of the overall tally with 33 pythons, taking home the $5,000 cash prize. They won an additional $3,000 for capturing the longest snake, clocking in at 15 feet.

The competition was started in 2013 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to keep the creatures from 'posing a threat to native wildlife'.

FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron said,  “Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife, and the increased public awareness will help us keep people involved as we continue managing invasive species in Florida.”

The python, which was once allowed to be kept as a pet, is believed to have been introduced into Florida's ecosystem in 1992 when they escaped from a breeding facility during Hurricane Andrew.

Researchers have predicted that there are at least 30,000 pythons in Florida's everglades, with some suggesting as many as 300,000 occupy southern Florida.

All the snakes captured in the Python Challenge were turned over to researchers who are trying to find clues to help control the population.

Some animal rights groups have blasted the event for the unethical way the snakes are killed.

While they are not opposed to the hunt itself, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, said, “Pythons who have had their heads hacked off remain alive and will writhe in agony for hours if their brains are not immediately destroyed.”

“PETA is calling on Florida officials to stop authorizing snake decapitation and make it clear that this egregiously inhumane killing method is unacceptable.”

It has suggested the hunters use bolt guns and fire arms to 'instantly kill the animals'. It has also condemned the 'bounty like' system to reward the killing of snakes.

The Burmese python, a native of south east Asia, is “wreaking havoc on one of America's most beautiful, treasured and naturally bountiful ecosystems,” U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director Marcia McNutt said in a 2012 report.

“Right now, the only hope to halt further python invasion into new areas is swift, decisive and deliberate human action.”

But the reptiles are notoriously difficult to find in the Everglades. In the first Python Challenge three years ago, around 1,600 hunters caught just 68, CNN reported.

The state's wildlife commission trained more than 500 people before the competition, teaching them how to identify, and locate, and capture Burmese pythons in a safe and humane way. 

Participants were also required to complete an online training module. 

In addition to the training, favorable weather conditions and a larger geographic area for the competition led to this year's success.

“We are excited to see so many people contribute to this important effort to conserve Florida's natural treasure, the Everglades ecosystem,” said Bergeron. “We need to keep this momentum going now that the competition is over.”

Team captain, Bill Booth, along with Duane Clark, Dusty Crum and Craig Nicks took home the $5,000 prize for first place for the team category after they killed 33.

The team of four also captured the longest python, which measured 15 feet and was awarded an additional $3,000.

Daniel Moniz captured 13 pythons, the most by any individual, and received $3,500.







Brian Wood, who owns All American Gator Products in Hollywood, Florida, pays up to $150 apiece for the snakes, about the same price he pays for python skins imported from Asia.



Florida holds an annual, month-long hunt for Burmese Pythons in an attempt to keep the snake's populations in control. This year's competition saw 106 killed, and a third of those will be turned into accessories.




FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron, said, “Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife.” Pictured, Jake Wood removing a purchased python from a cooler.




The python, which was once allowed to be kept as a pet, is believed to have been introduced into Florida's ecosystem in 1992 when they escaped from a breeding facility during Hurricane Andrew.




Researchers have predicted that there are at least 30,000 pythons in Florida's everglades, with some suggesting as many as 300,000 occupy southern Florida. 



The 'invasive' animals have been blamed for the near 'complete disappearance of raccoons, rabbits and opossums' since their introduction.



Some animal rights groups have blasted the event for the unethical way the snakes are killed. PETA suggested hunters use bolt guns and fire arms to 'instantly kill the animals' rather than have their heads cut off.



The reptiles are notoriously difficult to find in the Everglades. In the first Python Challenge three years ago, around 1,600 hunters caught just 68, CNN reported.



The state's wildlife commission trained more than 500 people before the competition this year, teaching them how to identify, and locate, and capture Burmese pythons in a safe and humane way.

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