Ban pythons: Snakes pose a real threat

Check out the Miami Herald piece below about creating a plan for invasive pythons in SW Florida. Margaret Lowman, speaker and the “grandmother of canopy research” is responsible for creating this plan.

“As a Senate hearing so aptly pointed out last week, the United States needs to take control of the exotic species that have invaded every region of the country. The pest du jour at the hearing was the Burmese python, which Sen. Bill Nelson wants banned from importing and pet store inventories.
In truth there are hundreds of invasive creatures threatening our native species — everything from the zebra snails that plug up power-plant intake pipes in the Great Lakes to the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a bacteria-carrying insect that has caused nearly $40 million in losses in California’s wine country.
In all, say scientists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, non-native species — plant and animal — cost the country $100 billion a year.
Nelson is right: The pythons should be banned. They threaten not just other animals but also humans. Unfurling a 17-foot-long skin of a snake caught in Everglades National Park, Sen. Nelson more than made his point about their danger.

A tragic reminder of just how dangerous: the pet python that escaped its terrarium and strangled 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare in Sumter County this month.
The pythons, which often start out here as pets that are freed or escape captivity, have proliferated in Everglades park. Biologists estimate that 150,000 of them now inhabit it. That’s a very scary number. And in case you think it’s an limited issue, think again. The problem isn’t limited to the Everglades.
At a recent meeting with Sarasota County commissioners, Meg Lowman, the director of environmental initiatives at New College of Florida in Sarasota, warned that pythons were making inroads in the Myakka River watershed.
In the past year, four were sighted in southern Sarasota County, three just off River Road. Using the biologists’ rule of thumb for wild things, you can figure on 10 pythons for every one you see. So it’s safe to assume the local Myakka region is now home to 40.
Pythons also reproduce quickly, so Lowman figured we might have a population of more than 2,300 by 2012. And the problem just compounds after that, as we’ve seen only too well with the growing population of black spiny-tailed iguanas, Nile monitor lizards and wild boar. The iguanas, especially, have proven to be a huge, costly problem for Charlotte and Lee counties on Gasparilla Island.
Nelson’s bill to ban the snakes has run into opposition from hobbyists, breeders and the pet trade. Their argument — that the majority of imported pythons don’t pose a threat — rings hollow. It only took two mating pythons to begin a major snake infestation in the Everglades, and the four in the Myakka River Watershed may pose a similar threat here soon.
The price of eradication may be high for all of us in the future, and it will never end until the source is cut off.”