Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Florida Python Problem

For years, pythons not native to the Everglades have slowly become a big problem here in Florida. They have become the unfortunate killers of many individuals (usually children and pets) and the state is now trying to do something about it. The state is even promoting the hunting and killing of these animals, who are just as much victims as those that they inevitably consume. See, the problem is not the snakes. It's people. These snakes have been transported from other countries for sale in the U.S. and then ignorant children and their ignorant parents buy pet pythons thinking "Wow, what a cool pet!" Like many pets, pythons eventually begin to overstay their welcome in the cushy suburban homes of these careless individuals. Either they get too big, or people decide they rather have a dog, or they just decide they don't want the animals anymore. Whatever the case, instead of finding a proper place to leave the pythons (some kind of animal shelter/rescue), they decide to go to places like the Everglades and let the snake go on its' merry way. "They'll fit right in!" they seem to believe, and apparently they do thrive in that environment. All too well. These snakes grow and procreate and grow and eat and grow and keep on growing. Pythons that once fit inside a small tank inside some 13 year old's bedroom have now surpassed their former owner in length. These animals are predators and know how to survive. And when there isn't enough to eat in the swamps, they decide to find food elsewhere. They make their way back to the cities and eventually become a "nuisance" to the rest of us.

Luckily, the state is already looking to find ways to nip this problem in the bud. For one, they recently approved a bill that would prevent the importation and interstate transit of Burmese and African rock pythons. This is definitely a step in the right direction. However, more needs to be done. The mother of a baby girl that was strangled to death by a pet python is now being charged in the child's death. She and her boyfriend are both being held responsible, and while these people have surely undergone a terrible ordeal, I can certainly understand how this is also clearly a case of negligence. Who has a pet python when you have a baby in the house? Why was this snake so easily able to find its' way to the child? It's unfortunate, but people need to understand that wild animals such as pythons are not good pets. They should not be in your homes, and if you do have them, you should not dispose of them in the wild, where they could grow and find their way to a new victim.

Please write to your representatives (including Florida Senators Martinez and Nelson) and let them know that killing these pythons is wrong and that we need to find another way of disposing of them, or at the very least, we need to implement stricter regulations in order to ensure that this problem finally ends (such as putting a ban on the sale of pythons, creating laws and harsher punishments against abandoning animals in the wild, etc.)

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