Saturday, December 8, 2012

Florida tackling python problem with hunting contest

By: Robert Habern

Section: Friday noon

Burmese Pythons have been wrecking havoc on the Florida ecosystem for years. It is believed that most of these pythons entered into the Everglades National park as escaped pets who were able to thrive in the ecosystem. Populations of rabbits, raccoons, foxes, opossums and bobcats have all dropped as a result of the invasive Burmese Python.

To solve this problem, the state is turning to its citizens for help. The idea is that a hunting contest will solve the problem. Starting in January of 2013, a grand prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the person who kills the most pythons, and $1,000 will go to the person who bags the longest one. All people have to do to enter the contest is pay $25 and take an online safety course in hunting. The Everglades National Park services is hoping that by creating an incentive system like this it can get the public more involved and more supportive of the project. The contest organizers believe that by holding this contest they will be teaching the public about the impact invasive species have on the environment and will be solving a serious problem at the same time. Contestants are encouraged to shoot the snakes in the head or chop their heads off with a machete to kill them in the most humane way.

I think this is a great way to solve a serious biodiversity-threatening problem. It has several benefits. For one, the Park services, an already insufficiently funded organization, will be saving a lot of money by having the public essentially doing the hunting for them. It will also educate the population about the problem, other similar problems, and the importance of balance in the ecosystem. Also, a contest such as this will probably be fun for many people.

Several issues may come up because of this contest. I'm sure some people will not be out there hunting the python for environmental reasons. Because of this, the well-being of other animals may be at stake. Also, having hundreds of people roaming the countryside with firearms may pose as a security issue.

Overall, this project is an interesting idea to solving a serious problem. There may be some problems with it, but overall I think it will be a success and help restore biodiversity in the area and improve the imbalance in the ecosystem.

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