Many efforts are underway to stem the concerns caused by invasive species in the Everglades including the most well-known invaders: Burmese pythons and other large constrictors. Preying on endangered wildlife and disrupting delicate balances within the Everglades, these invasive species have quickly usurped positions as top predators. A first important step to controlling the problem is to prevent more of these snakes from being brought into Florida and avoiding more from being released into the Everglades.
Congressman Tom Rooney is sponsoring a bill in Congress that would ban the nine most dangerous snakes from being imported to Florida. This legislation complements efforts by the Obama Administration (which implemented a ban of 4 of the 9 species in January) and Senator Bill Nelson. All should be commended for their efforts to seek solutions to avoid the further spread of this problem.
In an unfortunate development for Florida’s environment, other members of Congress expressed their resistance to such efforts during hearing of a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. While many of the comments failed to recognize the value of Congressman Rooney’s legislation, Audubon will continue working to educate the public and advance this wise, proactive measure.
Environmentalists say these snakes kill endangered wildlife in Florida and undermine a multi-billion-dollar restoration of the Everglades.
“If we are trying to restore the ecosystem for wading birds adapted to the Everglades and we have invasives countering those measures, that’s a big problem,” Julie Hill-Gabriel, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida, said after the hearing.
She also warned that widespread publicity about pythons and other snakes in the Glades have discouraged tourism.
“We have some people no longer willing to visit because they are just afraid,” Hill-Gabriel said. “The world knows the Everglades have a snake problem, and we need to show we are taking action.”