Python competition only yields 21 kills in the Everglades
IN THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES — The man known as “Alligator Ron” has a lifetime of experience in the Florida Everglades, a fleet of airboats at his disposal and knows the habitats of furry prey for large reptiles.
He still couldn't lead a pack of hunters to a single Burmese python.
That's the catch in Florida's “Python Challenge”: Even experienced hunters with special permits to regularly stalk the exotic snake through Florida's swamplands are having trouble finding them for a state-sponsored competition.
“When these snakes are in the water, in the vegetation, they blend in naturally to where you can't hardly see them,” said state wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron, whose nickname is emblazoned on the rudder of his black airboat, over the image of him riding an alligator.
The vast majority of roughly 1,000 people who signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands from Jan. 12 through Feb. 10 are amateurs when it comes to pythons.
Only about 30 hold permits for harvesting pythons throughout the year.
The permit holders might have a slight edge when it comes to handling snakes, but the tan, splotchy pythons have natural camouflage that gives them an important advantage in the ecosystem they have invaded.
As of Thursday, 21 pythons had been killed for the contest, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
It's hard to pin down exactly how many Burmese pythons slither through Florida's Everglades, but officials say their effect is glaringly obvious.
According to a study released last year, sightings of raccoons, opossums, bobcats, rabbits and other mammals in the Everglades are down as much as 99 percent in areas where pythons are known to live.
It's believed that the pythons are devouring the native wildlife and officials worry the snakes' voracious appetite will undermine the ongoing, multimillion-dollar effort to restore natural water flow through the Everglades.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 2 Ferguson officers resign, clerk out over racist emails
- Feds: Hackers get billion email addresses in breach
- Jury convicts Maine man in social media killing
- Snow-free Ititarod sled dog race moves north in Alaska
- Planet Mars likely had ocean, lost it, researchers find
- Democrats decry GOP subpoena of Clinton’s personal emails
- NASA spacecraft greets dwarf planet Ceres
- U.S. calls North Korea out on knife barb
- WVU, Va. coal company at odds over research papers
- Florida woman wields a shotgun in forcing son to jump from window
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care