In the southernmost part of the Florida Everglades, things have taken a really wild and spine chilling turn. Pythons and anacondas are eating everything. The most common animals in Everglades National Park — rabbits, raccoons, opossums and bobcats — are almost gone, according to a study released Monday. “There aren’t many native mammals that pythons can’t choke down,” said Robert N. Reed, a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geologial Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center and a co-author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Officials can’t stop invasive pythons and anacondas from marauding in the Everglades, Reed said; they can only hope to contain them. “We’re trying to prevent spread to the Florida Keys and elsewhere north.”“Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured and naturally bountiful ecosystems,” Marcia McNutt, director of the USGS, said in a statement. “The only hope to halt further python invasion. Is swift, decisive and deliberate human action.”
But officials do not yet know what can be done to slow the migration of pythons to other areas in Florida, and north to Georgia and Louisiana.
When researchers struck out to count animals along a main road that runs to the southernmost tip of the park, more than 99 percent of raccoons were gone, along with nearly the same percentage of opossums and about 88 percent of bobcats. Marsh and cottontail rabbits, as well as foxes, could not be found.
“We need more research into methods to limit the population spread,” said Michael F. Dorcas, one of the authors of the study, Severe Mammal Declines Coincide with Proliferation of Invasive Burmese Pythons in Everglades National Park. Dorcas was also part of a study that removed 10 snakes from the Everglades to winter in South Carolina, where each died of exposure. But researchers noted that the snakes were far more tolerant of cold weather than they had thought.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicted that a new generations of Burmese pythons on the edge of their non-native range can adapt and “expand to colder climates.” If they adapt to colder climates, that means that no one will be safe from these giant snakes.
People who live on the perimeters of the Everglades know only to well what these giant snakes can do when it comes to killing their dogs, cats and other pets. Someday in the near future, a child will be killed by one of these monsters…perhaps then, something will be done to get rid of a species that has no business being here.
You can follow us at www.twitter.com/HighlightHwd.
Written By: Bobby Head
Photographs are Courtesy: National Park Service/Florida Everglades
Follow us on Twitter @HighlightHwd or @LightfootinHwd