Python Patrol Reveals Everglades' Snake Problem

Burmese python populations have increased and displaced native wildlife in South Florida

By Donna Rapado and Solsiree Skarlinsky
|  Friday, Jun 29, 2012  |  Updated 9:07 AM EDT
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Researchers and licensed catchers spent Thursday brushing up on how to properly and safely catch pythons as the non-native snakes continue to wreak havoc on South Florida’s ecosystem by displacing some of the native wildlife. Edward Mercer, who captures snakes, spoke to NBC 6 about catching the snakes.

Researchers and licensed catchers spent Thursday brushing up on how to properly and safely catch pythons as the non-native snakes continue to wreak havoc on South Florida’s ecosystem by displacing some of the native wildlife. Edward Mercer, who captures snakes, spoke to NBC 6 about catching the snakes.

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Researchers and licensed catchers spent Thursday brushing up on how to properly and safely catch pythons as the non-native snakes continue to wreak havoc on South Florida’s ecosystem by displacing some of the native wildlife.

According to reports, Burmese python populations are heavily concentrated within the South Florida area. With the ability to lay up to 40 or even 50 eggs at a time, the reproduction of these reptiles are of concern.

Read study on pythons in the Everglades

In response to the soaring Burmese python population, the python patrol was born. 

Several licensed python hunters have taken on the task of catching these predators. Edward Mercer, a hunter, has already caught 27 pythons within a span of two years.

“There is no taking your eye off of it because in a fraction of a second they can turn and strike at you,” Mercer said. “When they latch on to you, those teeth are super sharp and they don’t let go.”

A reason for the increasingly large population of pythons lies within South Florida’s citizens. They will buy these pythons, keep them as pets and will later release them into the wild, experts said.

"The presence of Burmese pythons is a problem in the Everglades because they don't belong there," hunting instructor Jeffery Fobb said. "They compete with native wildlife, they displace some of the native wildlife potentially and it's an additional pressure on the Everglades."

Although since 2008, it has been illegal to own or capture a python without a permit. These snakes can grow to 20 feet in length.

Authorities say if a snake is spotted, please call 1-888-IVE-GOT-1.

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