Is There Progress In The Everglades Combating Burmese Pythons?

Recently the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in conjunction with the South Florida Water Management District announced the capturing of the 5,000th Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades since the onset of the state’s sanctioned initiative to rid the 'glades of the invasive species. On the surface, it sounds impressive. 5,000 snakes in three years are significant. But how much progress has really been made?

The pythons have no natural predators in the region, despite the rare but welcomed site of a hungry gator taking one on. This makes the Python Action Team potentially the biggest threat to the pythons. That’s why we’re potentially doing little more than helping slow the spread of the python problem as opposed to turning the corner on it. Based on the organization, estimates for Burmese Pythons in the Everglades is 30,000 to 300,000. The consensus estimate is 100,000. We know that the average lifespan of a python is 25 years. Also, female Burmese pythons average 75 eggs laid annually and 30,000 new estimated pythons born annually in the Everglades.

So, if we took these facts/estimates and compare it to what we’ve accomplished during the python hunts. The news isn’t great. We’re pacing the removal of around 1,700 pythons per year, while they’re likely adding tens of thousands per year. According to a study by Davidson college the pythons have been responsible for the following declines of native mammal populations in the Everglades:

  • 87.5% bobcat decline
  • 94.1% white-tailed deer decline
  • 98.9% opossum decline
  • 99.3% raccoon decline
  • 100% rabbit decline
  • 100% fox decline

It’s unknown what the impact on the Florida panther population may be, however, it’s believed they feed on them as well. The bottom line is that 5,000 removed pythons is better than nothing, but it appears as though we’re just scratching the surface of what’s needed to take back the glades from the massive Asian snakes.

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