Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hunters to the rescue

my thanks to Cagey for the tip about this story.

Florida's python problem to be solved by hunters.

What are the fair chase implications for the pursuit of pythons? As a "nuisance species," do pythons even deserve fair chase? why or why not? What does fair chase for pythons look like: centerfire rifles, snares, or machete blows to the head?
There are giant beasts stalking South Florida. Seriously: Burmese Pythons that can grow as long as a Winnebago and have been known to swallow German shepherds who take a wrong turn. There are an estimated 30,000 of them, slithering through Miami and surrounding counties. The reptiles wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. They can also kill people. Just last year, an 8½-foot family pet Burmese escaped its cage and strangled a 2-year-old girl while she slept in her crib.

Concern about the snake menace has been growing for years. Last summer, the state offered 19 hunters licenses to chase down the critters, hoping they could help bring the population under control. It didn’t work. So now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking a far more dramatic step: On March 6, they’re declaring open season on the giant pythons, opening up 736,000 prime snake-hunting acres to any Floridian with a hunting license. People from as far away as Australia want in on the action. For six weeks, an expected crowd of hundreds will get to take their best shot at bagging the beasts.

Local authorities talk of the need to bring in outside firepower with an almost comic bureaucratic calm. “In order to increase the numbers of reptiles of concern taken, we believe it is important to give the hunting community the tools for success, and that means the knowledge they need to apply their skill,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto, in announcing the need for to unleash hunters. Translation: The newbies need to follow the vets around, learning how to track, locate, and grab the suckers, then chop their heads off with a knife or machete. Those too squeamish to get close will shoot the snakes, with pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast and at Time magazine.


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