invasive species

State Program Records 500th Python Kill

Aug 18, 2017

With the state trying to reduce invasive species in areas such as the Everglades, a hunter Thursday killed the 500th Burmese python in less than five months under a South Florida Water Management District program.

Florida's lieutenant governor joined hunters paid by the state to stalk and shoot invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Payrolled python hunters. They’re the latest story on the South Florida python beat, and they’re drawing national and international media attention, too.

Kate Stein / WLRN

The Tamil word for python is "malaippāmpu." Translated literally, it means "mountain snake."

But two Tamil-speaking snake trackers from India, who are in South Florida to help with the region's python problem, think "water snake" would be a more appropriate name.

Florida’s invasive species problem can be daunting, with real implications for the state’s ecology and economy. The breadth of the issue is spurring some lawmakers to ask if state funding makes a difference.

Dansar / flickr

Burmese pythons, lionfish, african land snails -- these are just a few of the invasive species considered threats to Florida ecosystems. And the fact that you really can't snuggle with serpent, a venomous fish or a disease-carrying mollusk perhaps makes them easier to eradicate.

But what does Florida do about a potential invader that's a little on the cute side?


UPDATE: If you think you've spotted  a New Guinea flatworm in your area, the recommendation is to not touch it, take a picture of it and report it to state wildlife officials at 888-IVE-GOT1.

An invasive flatworm could potentially threaten wildlife, and even people in Southwest Florida. The New Guinea Flatworm was first found in the state near Miami more than a year ago. Now, they’ve popped up in Cape Coral, and most recently, Sanibel Island. 

Researchers are concerned about another nonnative species moving into Florida waters. Schools of the regal damselfish now live in coral reefs on the western side of the Gulf of Mexico. The fish are not harmful, but they could be a nuisance.

Sammy Mack / WLRN via Giphy

There’s a plot of land behind the swimming pool at Deerfield Beach High where science teacher Kelly Caputo points to a cluster of trees out in a field.

“You can see five large Australian pines,” says Caputo. “And as beautiful as they are, they’re non-native — they take up a lot of space, water — and if we do get heavy winds, they’re probably going to create a lot of damage.”

The Argentine black and white tegu is one of the newest, biggest threats to Florida’s natural wildlife. The large, invasive lizard was first noticed in the wild roughly 10 years ago. Now, it has two main breeding populations and biologists are trying to contain them. They want to stop tegus from becoming established throughout the state.

Bob DeGross, National Park Service / Bugwood.org

 

On Wednesday and Thursday, biologists from around South Florida gathered at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie for the annual Everglades Invasive Species Summit.

Rick Stone / WLRN

A big fear of state agriculture officials isn't a fear anymore. It's reality.

The giant African land snails that have plagued Miami-Dade County -- but only Miami-Dade County -- for three years have now spread to Broward County.

More than 128,000 Giant African Land Snails have been found and eradicated in the two years since the highly destructive creatures invaded the Miami-Dade area, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam says.

While it's too soon to declare victory, "we are confident that we will win this fight," Putnam adds.

Part of the credit, officials say, should go to "canine detector teams" that are sniffing out snails in places that are tough for humans to search.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

In the ongoing assault on invasive giant African land snails, Florida is ready to release the hounds.

Literally.

The state will be adding snail-sniffing dogs to its team of 50 full-time snail hunters.

RELATED: Dogs Prove To Be Key In Battle Against Giant African Snails

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