A Florida python named Elvis is helping stop the spread of the state’s most notorious pest

July 31, 2020
Nature
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Image Source: https://www.yahoo.com/

The war being waged against Florida’s most notorious pest experienced a recent battlefield victory. It’s a sign humans could finally be gaining ground against one of the greatest invasions ever to occur on American soil: the spread of Burmese pythons.

No one is celebrating yet. But this past winter, the good guys took a big step in pushing back the battle lines against one of the world’s most voracious predators.

Python breeding season typically runs November through March. Its peak is right around Valentine’s Day, of course.

Partners in South Florida’s radio signal python tracking program combined this past season to remove:

  • 86 adult pythons
  • 5,000 pounds approximate combined weight
  • 53 reproductive females
  • 2,500 developing eggs

That’s 2,500 fewer Burmese pythons that one day would wreak havoc on Florida’s native mammals, birds and other reptiles.

Scout snakes

The collective harvest marked the most successful season yet since 2006, when scout snake tracking programs first came into use..

The teamwork of the U.S Geological Survey, the National Park ServiceU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Conservancy of Southwest Florida has enabled research-based removal of pythons to become more effective.

“Our experts are committed to using innovative methods and technologies to track invasive pythons,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “This partnership will further aid in our efforts to eliminate this growing threat to South Florida’s ecosystem and biodiversity.”

The tracking program is part of the Interior Department’s $142 million commitment in fiscal year 2020 to invasive species management activities including prevention, early detection, rapid response, control and research.

How the scout snake program works:

  • Male snakes are captured as they move across roads, paths, trails and along levees, or when they are found in breeding aggregations.
  • They are transported to one of several locations for surgery.
  • Veterinarians implant a radio transmitter about the size of a AA battery.
  • Snakes are then released back into areas near where they were collected.
  • Snakes are tracked using their radio signal.
  • Biologists find the male snakes breeding with or nearby female snakes.
  • Females and some other males are humanely euthanized and data is collected.
  • Other males found in breeding groups are sometimes drafted into the tracking program.

Scout snakes are marked on the outside of their bodies with fluorescent orange tags and highly visible scale marks. Anyone who finds one of these should take a photo, leave the snake where it was found and report its location to the email address on the tag.

Story Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/florida-python-named-elvis-helping-131305453.html

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