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Eco Eyes on the Enviroment
impact news

The Burmese Python is a Threat to Florida
A Letter to the Editor by Rodney Barreto, Chairman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Dear Editor:

As manager of Florida's fish and wildlife resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is diligent in protecting native species and habitats. When an exotic species invades our natural landscape, it is our duty to do everything possible to ensure those invaders do not expand their range and harm the fragile balance of Florida's unique and abundant wildlife.

The Burmese python threatens that balance in the Everglades. A non-venomous constrictor, it preys on native Florida species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The appetite of the Burmese python poses a serious threat to some of Florida's already endangered species. For example, Burmese pythons have eaten Key Largo woodrats, a federally endangered species. 

We must do everything possible now to stop its spread into other areas. To that end, we began a python permit program on July 17 as a way to manage this unwanted species effectively. Under this program, the FWC hand-picked seven herpetologists to receive permits to go on specific FWC-managed lands and search for all Reptiles of Concern, including the Burmese python, and euthanize the snakes. We chose experts who know how to handle these large reptiles. Furthermore, we require the python be killed on site to ensure that none of these snakes escapes into other areas.

The permit holders may use hand-held instruments to kill the pythons but, under the current program, they may not use firearms or traps. Again, the professionalism of these permit holders ensures that the pythons are disposed of quickly and efficiently. The scientific data collected from these pythons will assist FWC biologists in learning more about this predator in the Everglades. And every time a python is destroyed, it means there is one less python slithering through the wilds of Florida.

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a laudable set of objectives for euthanasia of animals in laboratory and research settings. However, these objectives are not always practical in the wild. The AVMA's objectives are guidelines, but are not mandatory.

The FWC has been committed to preventing the spread of nonnative species throughout the state. In January 2008, the Commission approved revised regulations for nonnative and captive wildlife that require anyone owning a Reptile of Concern to be permitted through the FWC. We define a Reptile of Concern as a reptile that has habits that may adversely affect the environment or may be a threat to public safety. Reptiles of Concern must be licensed by the FWC to be kept as a pet. The license costs $100 per year and mandates specific caging requirements. Reptiles of Concern more than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the animal.

It is unlawful to allow these exotic pets to escape or to release them into the wild. The FWC holds Nonnative Pet Amnesty Days throughout the year so people who can no longer keep or care for a nonnative pet can bring them to us for adoption by licensed recipients. We have made every effort to ensure that no more of these pythons are allowed to escape into the wild.

Our python permit program is just the beginning. We are working with Everglades National Park, the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others on this problem. How the pythons are disposed of is not the issue; how we work together to solve a problem is. All groups - nonprofits, governmental and private - should be working toward one goal in the case of the Burmese python in the Everglades, which is their eradication from a place where they do not belong.

The FWC's main responsibility remains to reduce populations of a problematic species to minimize impacts to native fish and wildlife, their habitats and to residents of Florida.

Sincerely,

Rodney Barreto
Chairman
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

 

inform news

It's Our Obligation to Protect the Environment
By Blake O'Connor, 11th Grade
*Honorable Mention, Role Models Foundation Environmental Stewardship Contest*

As the dominant species of our planet, humans tend to take advantage of our planet by exploiting its resources on an immense level and failing to recognize the damage caused by leaving behind so much waste. Most people are either unaware of the consequences of their actions on the environment or do not care what the environmental consequences may occur on our planet after they are gone.

No longer can people use the excuse “as long as nothing happens in my lifetime,” because the time to act is now. Now is the time for people to take responsibility for taking care of the environment. For this reason, I have vowed to do everything I can to protect and improve the environment.

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role models foundation

What is an Environmental Steward?
Environmental stewards are high school students who consider the welfare of the environment in their everyday actions. They try to make changes that will help the environment through their actions and involvement in activities and organizations. They also attempt to teach members of their community and future generations what they have learned in order to effect change on a larger scale.

> Learn More about Environmental Stewardship Awards
> Download an ESA application
> Environmental Stewardship
Award past winners

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NASA
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Explore the many facets of NASA, more...

ENN
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People, Companies and Organizations Making a Difference for the Environment. more...

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Why I should Care2
support a good cause, find a job, meet new friends, find hiking buddies, and much more!!! more...

National Geographic
National Geographic
The Web Site of the National Geographic Society more...

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Want to learn about a particular animal or plant? How about other planets, the four seasons or environments around the world? In Inform News you will find interesting tidbits about these topics and more posted by our own Environmental Consultant, Barbara Little.
Have ideas or want to learn more? E-mail Barbara.
 

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