India Tribesmen Tackle Florida's Python Problem
They found 13 in first 8 days at it
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2017 7:28 AM CST
Researchers pose with the tribesmen and a captured python.   (Ed Metzger, University of Florida)
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(Newser) – After years of inviting the American public to try to help with its invasive python problem, Florida has brought in some experts from the snake's original territory. Two Irula tribesmen from India are working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to catch Burmese pythons in areas including the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on Key Largo, the Palm Beach Post reports. The Irula are renowned in India for their snake-catching skills, WESH reports, and in their first eight days on the Florida hunt, they managed to catch 13 pythons—an enormous haul, compared to the total of 68 caught by 1,600 hunters over the first month-long Python Challenge in 2013. Last year, the state-sanctioned hunt caught 106 pythons.

In Key Largo, the snakes were recently spotted for the first time and officials fear they will make their way through the islands, devastating native species in they same way that they squeezed much of the life out of the Everglades. "There's just a thin stretch of road between us and the mainland, so of course the snakes were going to slither their way here," Elizabeth Moscynski, president of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, tells the Washington Post. "We've got a lot of endangered species down here, so it’s just like a smorgasbord for those snakes." State officials hope the tribesmen, who will be in Florida until February, will teach some of their "incredible" skills to people in the state during the $68,888 effort. The Miami Herald reports 7 of the 13 pythons found so far wouldn't have been located without the tribesmen.

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