Florida wildlife managers are poised to unleash a team of trained hunters to track and kill the giant snakes on state lands.
''We've got to start doing something,'' said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Gov. Crist wants to take action to stop the spread of this snake.''
The program, which Barreto said he expected the governor to sign off on Wednesday, would be the first of what could turn into a two-fanged assault on a serpent that routinely grows longer than a Hummer. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson on Tuesday also called for organizing a controlled hunt in the federal lands of Everglades National Park.
One of the things that triggered this initiative is a terrible tragedy that took place near Orlando. In that case it was a house pet that did the deed and not one indigenous to the Everglades. Nevertheless, the python overpopulation in the Everglades may cause problems other than a treat to humans.
Birds, bobcats and deer have been found in their guts, and as one of the largest snakes in the world, sometimes topping 20 feet, they could potentially challenge natural dominant predators -- a concern underscored in 2005 by now-famous photos of a 13-foot python that burst after attempting to swallow a six-foot alligator.
What's your opinion? Is the culling of animal populations in controlled areas an acceptable way of maintaining the proper balance? Or do you think they should let the alligators fend for themselves and allow the snakes to take over if that's what Mother Nature wants.
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