Tag Archives: invasive species

Backyard Pythons? SLR/IRL

Skilled hunters, Burmese Pythons are one of the five largest species of snakes in the world and native to South and Southeast Asia. They are a threatened species in their native lands, but today there are breeding populations in a new environment, the Florida Everglades.  Image public domain.

I have this dream that I am enjoying walking around in my garden,  I look down, and there is a seventeen-foot python curled up under my house. Sounds ridiculous, but one day this may not be that far fetched.

This past week, the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) https://myfwc.com held their meeting at the Hutchinson Island Marriott, just over the Ernest Lyons Bridge from Sewall’s Point. One of the things they discussed was the overpopulation of Burmese Pythons that are ravaging native wildlife in Everglades National Park and other parts of South Florida.

I have been vaguely aware of this for years. My previous Sewall’s Point neighbor was a python enthusiast. Around 2012, he wrote TCPalm a letter to the editor in the python’s defense arguing that the Burmese Python did not bring itself to South Florida, people did! According to FWC pet pythons have been released since the 1960s but it was after Hurricane Andrew’s 1992 destruction that a breeding facility was destroyed, pythons escaped, the population exploded, and a breeding community arose.

I do believe “in all God’s Creatures,” but this is a nightmare-dynamic for Florida’s native wildlife. Public speakers noted Everglades National Park is “devoid of small mammals.” This is not an exaggeration, perhaps down 98%, and “small mammals” are not just what’s for dinner. Meals also include birds, eggs, bobcats, deer, alligators and who knows what else. Mr. Kipp Frohlich of FWC estimates a range from tens-of-thousands to over three-hundred-thousand snakes could be living in the Everglades. We really don’t know. One was even found in Florida Bay all curled up on a buoy. Oh yes, they can swim.

If I were a python and my friends and I  had eaten everything down south, what would I do? I’d slither north…

Opossums, armadillos, and families of raccoons visit my yard a few times a week. ~For now…

python-snake, public image

 

Please see links to learn about what is being done to controll and educate ourselves on the python:

FWC Presentation

Division: Habitat and Species Conservation
Authors: Sarah Funck, Kristen Sommers, and Melissa Miller, Ph.D. Report date: July 2019

https://myfwc.com/media/21029/10b-presentation-python.pdf

 

Smithsonian article shared by SFWMD:  Snake Landia_Smithsonian Article_07-2019

*Florida still allows breeders of Burmese Pythons in Florida, but they can only sell the animals outside of the state. All things considered, at the meeting, FWC Commissioner Gary Lester questioning the wisdom in this. I agree. Considering this is how pythons got out of control in the first place.

The Florida Channel videos of FWC meetings in Hutchinson Island; pythons: day 2:

https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/7-17-19-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-part-2/

https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/7-18-19-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission/

Piranha, Pacu, Invasive Species, the Future of Lake Okeechobee and the SLR/IRL

Mouth of a pacu fish with very human like teeth. Yikes! :) Public photo.
Mouth of a pacu fish with very human like teeth. Yikes! 🙂 These fish are reported to be in Lake O. Public photo.

Just the other day, one of my readers sent me a funny but educational video on Lake Okeechobee and the continued sightings of Pacu fish. Pacu Fish are related to Piranhas and both fish live in the Amazon River of South America. Both have TEETH.

Since my husband pulls out wisdom teeth and replaces teeth with implants,  teeth are often a topic of discussion for us, even at the dinner table….when we first met, he told me my teeth were great, except my “lateral incisors were too prominent…..:) —-the vampire teeth! 🙂 I was not happy…:)

Me holding up a fried piranha Ed and I caught recently on a trip to Peru.  (Photo Ed Lippisch 2015.)
Me holding up a fried piranha Ed and I caught recently on a trip to Peru. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2015.)

Anyway. Today’s blog post is meant to be fun but serious.

Invasive species are forever changing South Florida. Between pythons in the Everglades, Lion Fish in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Cuban Tree Frogs as well as Bufo Frogs in Sewall’s Point, and Pacu Fish with their “human like teeth” in the Lake Okeechobee—that of course is periodically dumped into our rivers—our world is changing. Native species are being replaced and overwhelmed.

In their 5th Biennial Review of Progress in the Everglades or lack thereof,  the National Reasearch Council noted Invasive Species as a top concern for Everglades Restoration.

I read about all this and get upset at the invasive species problem…then it dawns on me that some may say “we, modern man, in South Florida, are an invasive species too.”

Food for thought anyway….

Thank you to Ricardo Zambrano and Kelly Gestring of the Florida Wildlife Commission for replying to my question about PACU and Lake Okeechobee as seen below:

Pacu fish in an aquarium. Related to a piranha that looks somewhat similar but has sharp teeth. Public photo.
Pacu fish in an aquarium. Related to a piranha that looks somewhat similar but has sharp teeth. People have released them into Lake O. Public photo.

Dear Commissioner Thurlow-Lippish,

To the best of my knowledge, this report of a singleton pacu being caught by a commercial fisherman in Lake Okeechobee is true. The reporter contacted several FWC people and I was asked to confirm the identity of the fish.

We receive numerous reports every year of singleton pacu being caught (primarily in HOA ponds) every year from locations around the state. However, there is no indication that pacu are reproducing in any of our waterbodies. This strongly suggests that the illegal releases of pacu are by owners who no longer want their pet.

Pacu are primarily herbivores and pose little threat to native species. Anglers should be careful removing the hook as pacu’s have very strong jaws and their molar-shaped teeth could inflict a lot of damage to a finger.

We encourage anglers that catch a pacu to remove them to reduce any potential impacts they may have on the environment.

Thank you for your concern and if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kelly Gestring

Non-Native Fish and Wildlife Program
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
10216 Lee Road
Boynton Beach, FL 33473
(561) 292-6007 office
(561) 234-9925 cell
kelly.gestring@myfwc.com

Pacu: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacu)

WESH piece with video about Pacu sent by blog reader: (http://www.wesh.com/video/vuz/invasive-fish-with-humanlike-teeth-found-in-florida-lake/34337634?src=app)