Python invasion could have lasting effects on Florida ecosystem

Experts say Big Cypress National Preserve is under siege by the rapidly growing numbers of Burmese pythons, and if the population isn’t under control it could change an entire ecosystem.

“If we don’t get Burmese pythons under control in big Cypress national preserve they could have a real detrimental impact on our mammal population and hunting community,” said Tony Pernas, a wildlife biologist.

The preserve has teamed up with the U.S. Ecological survey and are capturing male pythons and putting radio transmitters in them.

“With the radio transmitters it helps us identify the home range what area the Burmese python’s are occupying and what pray bass there are utilizing within that area and what their breeding locations are,” Tony said.

Pernas and fellow biologist Matthew McCollister released this 7-foot male back into the preserve, they say the snake will lead them to breeding females with mating season right around the corner.

“We have an opportunity to remove the breeding female which is much more important then an individual male,” said McCollister.

There are currently about half a dozen pythons with transmitters, but the one released on Tuesday was extra special because it was found in the middle of the preserve away from roadways.

“It’s not at risk of getting hit by vehicles or getting picked up by collectors so we have an opportunity to build a longer data set with it,” said McCollister.

A female python can lay up to 100 eggs at once, that’s why Pernas says it’s imperative to capture them before that happens.

“And remove those and utilize additional males to add to our fleet of transmitter pythons.”

If the population isn’t controlled soon, Pernas says the pythons could expand as far north as Tampa.



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