The vast emerald nape of western Palm Beach County, the last base in the northern Everglades, was first reported. Witness of an invasive python This fall as the parasites thrill north.
Biologists have long had destructive snakes Arthur R. Marshall Roxahatchie National Wildlife Sanctuary After Python DNA is detected in a vein in a freshwater reserve.
However, recently in late October, an invasive plant management contractor in the South Florida Water Management District turned to one of the greedy eaters and added two other unidentified but “trustworthy” sightings. bottom.
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“Finally, unfortunately, I witnessed a Burmese python inside a shelter,” said Frank Mazzotti, a professor of wildlife at the University of Florida, who leads the Fort Lauderdale crocodile research team.
Mike Kirkland, an invasive animal biologist in the water management district, said he would meet with shelter staff this week to discuss how they best countered the early visible python attacks.
Besides trying to capture Python, it’s best to report sightings immediately so that you can dispatch Python’s fast response units.
“We know they are in shelters, but we haven’t seen them. When you start seeing them, it’s an indication that the population is growing,” Kirkland said. rice field. “The fact that we have made some recent sightings leads me to believe that there is more.”
The district has contracted with the University of Florida for emergency assistance for invasive species, including the latest python sightings at shelters.
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“We responded within a few hours, but it’s gone,” said Mazzotti. “If you see a python sunbathing and you’re not there right away, you’ll miss it.”
Shelters are 144,000 acres of tree islands, sawmill ridges, cattail marshes, cypress swamps, and swamps that flow like fluid seams. Most shelters are only accessible by airboat or helicopter, and quick response is almost impossible.
In other parts of South Florida, pythons are often caught when sunbathing on embankments running in wetlands or when seen by hunters driving along the embankments at night. However, there is no embankment that penetrates Lox Refuge’s intestines.
“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” Kirkland said of catching a python in a shelter.
A US Geological Survey survey published online in March 2019 found evidence that evacuation centers were “inhabited by pythons.”
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USGS scientist Margaret Hunter tested Python DNA water throughout shelters between 2014 and 2016, “in contrast to sporadic, temporary individuals and alternative vectors, into a resident Python population. We found an amount of positive samples that “matched the expected pattern.”
Hunter, who collaborated with several other USGS researchers on the project, said most of the water tested positive for Python DNA is near the center of a shelter where people are unlikely to find snakes. Said.
In 2016, a 10-foot-long python was found on an embankment near the southeastern side of the shelter and was witnessed in a parking lot adjacent to the shelter, but it is unknown how the snake settled.
In September 2019, the Water Management District announced a new element of the Python hunting program that nearly doubles the wages of contractors who are willing to patrol shelters.
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Hunters can earn $ 15 per hour in shelters, compared to $ 10 in other parts of South Florida. Hunters are also paid under an incentive of $ 50 for every 4 feet or more of Python, and an additional $ 25 for every foot of 4 feet or more.
Approximately 5,250 pythons have been removed by district hunters since the program began in March 2017. A hunter from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has captured an additional 3,385 pythons.
“We don’t expect them to catch a lot of pythons because the shelter population is so small compared to other project areas,” Kirkland said of why the district raised wages in shelters. I did. “We want to keep it that way, which gives contractors additional incentives to serve the region.”
Kimberly Miller is a veteran journalist at Palm Beach Post, part of Florida’s USA Today Network. She covers weather, climate and environment and holds a certificate of weather forecast from Pennsylvania State University. Contact Kim at [email protected]
This article was originally published in Palm Beach Post. Burmese python first discovered at Loxahatchee shelter