Python/Mammal study - Scary.

Hickory DogHickory Dog Posts: 5,047 Officer
Pythons Eating Through Everglades Mammals at "Astonishing" Rate?
"Dramatic" declines of everything from rabbits to bobcats documented.




From rabbits to deer to even bobcats, invasive Burmese pythons appear to be eating through the Everglades' supply of mammals, new research shows.

Since the giant constrictors took hold in Florida in 2000, many previously common mammals have plummeted in number—and some, such as cottontail rabbits, may be totally gone from some areas.

Scientists already knew from dissecting the 20-foot (6-meter) snakes that they prey on a wide range of species within Everglades National Park. (See a picture of a Burmese python that exploded eating an American alligator in the Everglades.)

But this is "the first study to show that pythons are having impacts on prey populations—and unfortunately those impacts appear to be pretty dramatic," said study leader Michael Dorcas, a herpetologist at Davidson College in North Carolina.

"We started the study after we realized, Man, we're not seeing a lot of these animals around anymore," Dorcas said.

But "when we did the calculations, we were pretty astonished."

(See "Alien Giant Snakes Threaten to Invade Up to a Third of U.S.")

Burmese Pythons Causing "Severe Declines"?

For the study, Dorcas and colleagues conducted nighttime surveys of live and dead animals on roads between 2003 and 2011. Such numbers provide estimates of how many animals of a certain species are present in a given area.

The scientists compared these data with similar surveys conducted in 1996 and 1997.

Before 2000 it was common to see mammals such as rabbits, red foxes, gray foxes, Virginia opossums, raccoons, and white-tailed deer on roadways after dark, the team says.

But the 2003 to 2011 surveys—which covered a total of nearly 35,400 miles (57,000) kilometers of road—revealed "severe declines" in mammal sightings, according to the study, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Raccoon observations dropped by 99.3 percent, opossum by 98.9 percent, and bobcat by 87.5 percent. The scientists saw no rabbits or foxes at all during their surveys.

(Read about giant Burmese python meals that went bust.)

Also worrisome is what could be happening to species that were already rare—and thus more difficult to research, Dorcas noted.

For instance, it's unknown whether the snakes are putting the squeeze on the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar deemed endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But "it's not unreasonable to assume that a really large python could consume a Florida panther," he said—the snakes are known to eat leopards in Southeast Asia.

(See "Hybrid Panthers Helping Rare Cat Rebound in Florida.")

Impact of Everglades Mammal Decline Unknown

It's difficult to predict how the decline in mammal populations will affect the Everglades, Dorcas said. (See Everglades pictures.)

Replies

  • Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,535 Admiral
    That is pretty wild. Once the prey is gone........some will die, some will move. Imagine, Naples, Plantation having pythons in the backyards eating fido.
    I have a much bigger and more powerful button
  • ChuddybuckrivetChuddybuckrivet Posts: 3,156 Officer
    And yet they still wont have an open season on them without permits etc.
    If you told people(rednecks) you can kill them at will, with no permit, licenses, red tape etc and the there will be prizes for the largest/most killed, we could put the hurt on their population.
  • Hickory DogHickory Dog Posts: 5,047 Officer
    Link - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/120130-florida-burmese-pythons-mammals-everglades-science-nation/

    I wouldn't worry too much about it - Tater will be along in a minute to explain how the study is flawed because it is just some career academic looking to maintain his grant funding from PythonProtector brand anti python collars for dogs.
  • Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,535 Admiral
    And yet they still wont have an open season on them without permits etc.
    .

    Thats always boggled my mind.


    Frick, open a commercial season on them bad boys.......2 years MAX, they'd be wiped out
    I have a much bigger and more powerful button
  • WaterEngineerWaterEngineer Posts: 24,415 AG
    Link please so I can pass it along. Thanks.
  • Hickory DogHickory Dog Posts: 5,047 Officer
    And yet they still wont have an open season on them without permits etc.
    If you told people(rednecks) you can kill them at will, with no permit, licenses, red tape etc and the there will be prizes for the largest/most killed, we could put the hurt on their population.
    100% agree - 25 bucks a hide, breeding age females 50 bucks each, and you get double the price if you bring in 50 or more at a shot. Top killer of the year gets a new truck and boat. Problem solved.
  • Lucky7Team2Lucky7Team2 Posts: 6,794 Officer
    With the huge numbers of alligators you would think baby pythons would be a large food source and help control the population...
  • Joey ButtonsJoey Buttons Posts: 11,849 AG
    I hate snakes
    FSU is the best football team of all time!
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,305 Admiral
    Unleashing hoards of rednecks into the glades to kill them at will is not a solution. They would kill a few but not even make a dent in the population. Snakes, even giant snakes, are some of the most secretive animals on the planet. They are masters of camoflauge and remaining hidden. For every snake the romp and stompers find, they will likely walk past a hundred. The things are like roaches. There are a great many you don't see for every one you see. Finding them in the open is in most cases luck. You will get a few sunning themselves on roadsides, and a few crawling out on the roads after dark to warm themselves. But to really get them you have to get into the really thick stuff. There are not a whole lot of folks willing to get down on their hands and knees in the brush, crawling through tunnels made by critters to find these snakes. Most of them are not going to be in places where you can shotgun them from a safe distance. This is an "in your face" proposition.

    To make a real dent in the population, the State is going to have to attract those with a specific skillset and mindset to go out and harvest them in sign. There has to be a monetary gain to make this happen. You cannot expect people to do it without at least covering their costs.

    The problem is both political and economic.
    First of all there is some market for python hides. But the trade in python hides, even in the case of these invasive exotics, is controlled and regulated by CITES Apendex II. Just like Alligators. Even if they opened it up to a free for all (and CITES is international so fat luck of that happening) I doubt the exotic leather trade would stand for it. No way they want 400 dollar python boots sitting on store shelves to devalue to almost nothing. Plus the market for consumer goods made from exotic skins is only so big. Throw ten thousand Burmese hides into the market in a short time period and bad things will happen.

    The political side is no less complex. Passing laws prohibiting trade on live animals is a feel good. Nothing more. The problem is there already. Stopping live trade in large snakes is not going to do anything at this point other than cost jobs in the pet trade. If the state and feds want to accomplish anything, the are going to have to place a bounty on the snakes. And not a ten dollar, twenty dollar, etc bounty. It has to be a real bounty that will attract people that have the skills to collect significant numbers. To do it right, people are going to incur costs. Example: a two or three man team spending the weekend collecting is going to rack up several hundred bucks in expenses.

    There are no easy answers. But if something is not done, they will be statewide and beyond.
  • Triple Threat 33TTriple Threat 33T Posts: 18,669 Admin
    Pythons are actually good to eat.
    "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen."
  • ChuddybuckrivetChuddybuckrivet Posts: 3,156 Officer
    Unleashing hoards of rednecks into the glades to kill them at will is not a solution.

    Won't hurt for the mean time. Beats doing nothing but talking about the rest of the issues you mentioned.
  • PONCEPONCE Posts: 5,943 Officer
    I saw a report on TV on this subject and they brought up a point that some of the people are bringing poisonous snakes like Puff Adders and Mambas and other variety of snakes. They were really concerned about those snakes being let go in the Everglades. Not a pleasant thought.
  • FishyGirlFishyGirl Posts: 715 Officer
    100% agree - 25 bucks a hide, breeding age females 50 bucks each, and you get double the price if you bring in 50 or more at a shot. Top killer of the year gets a new truck and boat. Problem solved.

    Best idea on this form so far this year!
    "America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves"
    --Abraham Lincoln
  • cprcpr Posts: 9,309 Admiral
    We have a high unemployment rate in this state. Why doesn't the state together national parks system hire 10,000 or so people to beat the bushes and find and kill, kill, kill these snakes?
    "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr
  • ChuddybuckrivetChuddybuckrivet Posts: 3,156 Officer
    cpr wrote: »
    We have a high unemployment rate in this state. Why doesn't the state together national parks system hire 10,000 or so people to beat the bushes and find and kill, kill, kill these snakes?

    Cause that makes entirely too much sense.
  • Billy No MatesBilly No Mates Posts: 3,032 Captain
    Won't hurt for the mean time. Beats doing nothing but talking about the rest of the issues you mentioned.

    Exactly. Probably would cut down on the redneck population at tyhe same time.
  • Hickory DogHickory Dog Posts: 5,047 Officer
    If you paid enough to make it worthwhile people would do it and I have more faith in rednecks than you do I guess. Past efforts like this have paid too little - if guys could make a couple hundred bucks a day it would be more effective than sitting on our hands while mammals disappear and the threat to domestic animals and humans grows. I also think opening it up to the general population is going to be more effective - people are already training dogs to find snakes.
  • cprcpr Posts: 9,309 Admiral
    I also think opening it up to the general population is going to be more effective - people are already training dogs to find snakes.

    There you go Johnny Bandit. You could get in at the beginning of a new business model. You could train dogs to find snakes and rent or sell them to hunter or the NPS. It's a win win, you love working with dogs and the environment would be better off.
    "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr
  • Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,535 Admiral
    Came across this yesterday night totally by accident.........interesting to say the least
    I have a much bigger and more powerful button
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,305 Admiral
    PONCE wrote: »
    I saw a report on TV on this subject and they brought up a point that some of the people are bringing poisonous snakes like Puff Adders and Mambas and other variety of snakes. They were really concerned about those snakes being let go in the Everglades. Not a pleasant thought.

    Venomous snakes have always been brought in. Florida has a small but active group of venomous hobbyists. Little chance of them being a problem. A bigger concern is that Miami is the point of entry for most reptiles. Escapes from wholesalers are a bigger concern.
  • GA FinGA Fin Posts: 8,956 Admiral
    Straight white male living a life of privilege and proud of it.


    "The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters."
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