The Florida Everglades and its surrounding areas are under attack by Southeast Asian pythons. By comparison, in Southeast Asia, the python is listed as a “critically endangered species” due to the skin trade. In the U.S., a beautiful jacket will cost over $12,000 with a pair of snake boots going for $3,500.
This invasive, non-native species is wreaking havoc on the local population of alligator, raccoon, coots, heron, squirrels, rabbits, and wrens — just to name a few. Make no mistake this is an eco-disaster. Recent estimates by the National Park Services have put python numbers as high as 100,000. At full maturity, a Burmese python routinely reaches lengths of 12 or more feet with those 20 feet in length weighing 250 pounds. This is not unheard of.
The devastation caused by the python is no joke. Many mammals native to the marshes of the Everglades — like foxes and rabbits — seem to have disappeared. These pythons eat and eat well.
Last year, 1,000 outdoorsman participated in a program to help control the population. The result was a combined total of 106 snakes caught in one month. Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hired two snake hunters from the Irula tribe in India. Despite advances in hunting techniques and technology, the Irula duo, armed with crowbars and machetes, bagged 27 pythons in one month; including a 16ft-long (5m) female in an abandoned missile base in Key Largo.
That means the two Irula tribesmen, in there 50’s, out hunted the outdoorsmen by a score of 135 to 1. It’s amazing how human culture, generations of knowledge and experience can out-play advanced hunting techniques when it comes to hunting down snakes and snake eggs.
So, what is coming to your door soon? Well, if you live in the name land of the Florida Keys, pythons are starting to wipe out the indigenous wood rats of Key Largo which are in peril. In fact, the Florida Keys have already been under attack by many invasive species.
The Argentine Tegus (large lizards) are gorging themselves on sea turtle eggs. Nile Monitor lizards from Africa love to eat frogs, alligator, and crocodile eggs. Russian Zebra Mussels are damaging our waterways while Asian Carp are attacking the Great Lakes.
Some people believe the Asian Carp will be the only freshwater fish left in America in a few decades as they destroy all other species.
I’ve spent a lifetime in the outdoors. The Burmese python problem is a catastrophe. There are no countermeasures; there is no effective way of eliminating the species from its current habitat. The great snake was not supposed to be here, yet it is. Like the big question posed in the late Bob Marley’s “Bad Boys,” “What you gonna do, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you?”