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January 14th, 2013
08:25 AM ET

Is Fla. 'open season' python hunting the best answer to snake overpopulation? Wildlife expert Jeff Corwin weighs in

Hunting to conserve wildlife seems a contradiction, but not in Florida. An invasive species of snakes are now the target of a hunting competition.

Giant Burmese pythons are threatening the delicate ecosystem of Florida’s Everglades, so the state is now asking the public for help. Until February 10th, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared open season on pythons in the Everglades.

All you need to participate is a $25 registration fee and an online training course. The person who kills the most pythons wins $1,500, while $1,000 goes to the person who bags the longest snake.

Jeff Corwin, wildlife conservationist and the host of "Ocean Mysteries" on ABC, explains why he thinks the state's answer to the python issue is drastic.

"The truth is these snakes are having a devastating impact on this critical habitat and the species that live here," he says.

Corwin, who says his career has been based on snakes, admits he has mixed feeling about the contest. "Frankly, they've done nothing wrong. They're just doing what snakes do," he says. "But something has to be done to manage this environment, or we could literally see some species pushed to extinction because of the presence of these invasive snakes."

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  1. toddmichaelcox

    Dear Zoraida Sambolin.

    While we of the Snake Anti-Defamation League appreciate the time you have dedicated to this unfortunate story, and while we are not opposed to the python hunt, knowing that the importance of natural ecosystems outweighs any moral or ethical concerns about such a cull, we do have an issue with the carnival atmosphere this "contest" has created in the media. It is important that you continue to focus on people like Mr. Corwin or (even better) the individuals who have spent their lives studying this particular ecosystem and who know better than any of us what threats it faces. Do a story on exactly why this ecosystems in important in the first place. It might not make for flashy or ratings-grabbing news, but it will be educational... and is that not the reason for your existence?

    Again, while we are not opposed to the hunt, we are troubled by what seems, at times, like the media's blood-lust. Is this driven by the hatred and misunderstanding that snakes face in the general populace? Hard to imagine the killing of feral cats being such a media circus, after all, even though cats do far more damage to the environment than serpents.

    Human beings are the reason these pythons are present in the Everglades, it is not the fault of the animals. Therefore, any removal of them, lethal or otherwise, must be undertaken with as much human compassion and respect as possible.

    Which brings me to you, Ms. Sambolin. It was odd to hear you speak of being interested in joining in on the hunt... I hope you would also be as joyfully willing to go out and take part in some general non-lethal sorts of field work, finding native snakes doing what they do in their natural habitats, and seeing how beautiful they really are. I'd hate to think of you as a bloodthirsty snake hater. These are valuable animals of grace and beauty, and you would do well to seek them them out in the places they call home. I have no doubt you would find the experience rewarding.

    Sincerely,

    The Snake Anti-Defamation League

    January 28, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
  2. steve kovarie

    That's it? That's all JC has to say about this? I would have expected more out of him.

    January 23, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply

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