Q&A on the News

Q: Why doesn't the state of Florida organize a snake roundup to help reduce the python population in the Everglades?

—Robert Lammers, Marietta

A: The python problem isn't limited to Everglades National Park, Linda Friar, spokeswoman for the Everglades & Dry Tortugas National Parks, told Q&A on the News in an email. She also said it's also against the law to hunt in a national park, but the park service has 30 agents who help locate and capture pythons, which are tough to find and catch. "The state of Florida tried a pilot program to remove pythons on state lands last year," Friar said. "They allowed [hunters to hunt the snake] during an eight-week hunting season, however it did not prove very successful as none were captured during that period." A study recently found that numbers of native mammals such as raccoons, possums and rabbits – and even the endangered wood stork -- are decreasing in the Everglades due to non-native constrictors, such as the Burmese python. Last year, water management contractors in western Miami-Dade County captured and killed a 16-foot Burmese python that had eaten a 76-pound deer, but visitors rarely see the snakes, Friar said. Last month, the U.S. banned the "importation and interstate transportation" of four species of non-native constrictors, including the Burmese python. "Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America's most beautiful, treasured and naturally bountiful ecosystems," U.S. Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt said in a press release. "Right now, the only hope to halt further python invasion into new areas is swift, decisive and deliberate human action."

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).