Tired of these motherf#@in’ snakes in the ‘Glades?!

A recent article from the journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reports that observations of some mammal species have declined by more than 99% in parts of the Everglades, due primarily to giant non-native invasive pythons. Yeah, it’s scary, but to be honest, here at the Earth First! Newswire, we’re a bit tired of hearing about it. Why hasn’t the NAS issued a report on the impacts of having the largest fossil fuel power plants in the entire country in this watershed? Y’all know we already have the top two, and now the motherf#@kers at FPL are proposing the third largest fossil plant over in Hendry County, in primary Florida panther habitat no less.

The debate over whether the python’s threat is really worth all the hype that the state is giving it is raging here in the EF! Journal office. The phone is ringing off the hook.

Here’s one anonymous EF!er’s take: “I know the Everglades are plenty fucked up by industrial targets, but no rabbits anymore and a 99% drop in other species?  That seems fairly major to me and likely will have visible impacts sooner rather than later on at least the predator end of the food chain. You’ll notice the deer are way down also, so hunters are likely going to notice… Covert EF! snake hunts?  Fun, and python tacos for everyone!”   Ok, so the phones aren’t really ringing off the hook, but someone did really send us this in an email. Are you confused on where we stand yet? Well, so are we.

Pythons occasionally tackle alligators, which can end badly for both animals.. Hard to tell exactly what happened her, but the shit don't look pretty.

On a possibly brighter note, at least for you misanthropes out there, it seems the snakes may also also be playing a minor role in reducing the numbers of the Earth’s most destructive native invasive species–the US Humane Society recently told Associated Press that at least 12 people have been killed in the US by pet pythons between 1980 and 2009.

In the meantime, if any of you wildlife biologists out there are also sniffing a possible conspiracy of mass distraction and are interested in going toe-to-toe with the National Academy, get in touch with us. You could get a chance to be published in the prestigious Earth First! Journal

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  1. ROTF… Cabale News Service Travus T. Hipp Morning News and Commentary

    «o» More of a “Snake Farm” than it ever was – People have been dumping their pet Boa Constrictors in the Florida Everglades, which is the perfect environment for the HUGE WHEN FULLY GROWN reptiles. However, The Everglades contains no natural predators and the massive number of eight foot fully grown pythons resulting from that eco-imbalance is causing the count of small critters like bobcats and raccoons to plunge dramatically. More about reptiles in the commentary.

    “January 31 2012 Travus T. Hipp Morning News & Commentary: Pythons & Republicans – Two Species Of Reptile Hosted By Certain Areas Of Florida’s ‘Environment'”


  2. i find it mildly amusing that the NAS and a bunch of research professors would be suspect here. We’d all run to cite them in a global warming debate, but, oh, they produce some info that doesn’t fit with our preconceived notions about wildland ecosystems and all of a sudden there is a conspiracy to distract.

    if y’all can prove it, great, i’ll stand corrected. but for now, that shit just sounds like it came off of some right wing website – “lets trash the scientists for saying some shit we don’t like”. or, those scientists are following the grant money and promoting a crises so they can get rich. or whatever. you get the point, that shit sounds like Glenn Beck and i’m embarrassed that y’all printed it.

    it makes far more sense, although it is far less glamorous, that an invasive species has caused this kind of sudden and precipitous population decline via predation (and starvation of other predators denied prey) than some vague ideas about point source pollution from a couple of coal burners or even non-point source or from habitat loss due to cane, condos or cars. come on, cane, condos and cars have been a problem for the Everglades for a long time. this catastrophe is new, sudden and severe.

    especially with raccoons and possums. please use common sense. raccoons and possums are two of eastern North America’s most adaptable mammals. they live in swamps, mountains, beaches, suburbs, forests, farms, cities, etc… they were dumpster diving long before any lowbaggers, hippies or crusty punks ever dreamed of the riches available out back.

    as for underground python removal, that shit is right on.

    i certainly hope that either the government or a big conservation outfit will step up and offer a bounty for dead pythons. sounds like a great way for some lowbaggers to get paid.

    even better would be a small worker owned cooperative that buys dead pythons and turns them into meat, boots, and pretty bone jewelry that hippies and punks alike would love to wear. i’d buy a python skin with the EF! tools etched onto it to support the Journal.

    i’m sure this is gonna bring howls of outrage from all the folks that think individual animals are more important than ecosystems, but to bad, so sad. 99% loss of mammal numbers and diversity is a fucking catastrophe that far outweighs the rights of the individual snakes.

    • Yes! Excellent response.. Wait, did we really sound like Glenn Beck? If you lived and worked in this bioregion, you’d be crazy to not be a skeptic about how shit goes down in these swamps. And if you trust scientists that much, maybe you’ve never been to the Everglades. Carl Hiaasen (the Ed Abbey of Florida) coined the term “biostitute” in reference to the staggering number of “scientists” that are hired essentially as industry lobbyists. Can we prove a conspiracy? No, but we plan on keeping our eyes on peeled. Will some of us hunt pythons to make snake burgers and bone trinkets? Yes, very likely.

      • not really, but a big pile hyperbole deserves the same in response.

        i have not been to the Everglades, but i have a long EF! background and am now in natural resource research and i think the charges of biostitutes are overblown. across the board. I have read Hiassen, He is awesome. however, i have my doubts about his coinage of the term, as i heard it in the very early 90’s long before i got turned on to him in the late 90’s. i’ll ask the guy who used it up here in our ecosystem fights where he got it.

        in addition, invasive snake destruction of native fauna is not new. Any relatively modern ecology textbook should have a discussion of island biogeography and the case of the few islands in the Pacific that had snakes invade and suffered catastrophic loss of higher order vertebrates (lizards, birds, mammals). i think i remember that even Guam suffered this. (now that i’ve typed this, after checking the actual paper from the NAS, they mention the Guam case in their intro). i recommend actually reading the paper.

        here is their funding:

        “Support was provided by Davidson College, Duke Energy, the J. E. and Majorie B. Pittman Foundation, Inc., the Center for Forest Sustainability at Auburn University, US Geological Survey Ecosystems Program, US Geological Survey Priority Ecosystem Science Program, and the National Park Service”

        now, it goes without saying that Duke are criminal scum. But i would be willing to wager that Duke funds one of the professors and not the whole study. I have worked in research on National Park Service money before and i really believe that scientists with the NPS are legit and have very legit concerns about invasive species.

        biostitute may be an accurate term for scientists directly in the employ of industry, but my recent experience in research leads me to think that applying that term to university researchers and lower level gov’t agency researchers is simply name calling and uninformed. The report in question was done by university folks and one USFWS scientist. they list endangered species as being of concern over game species. to me, that is a pretty good indicator they are not biostitutes.

        if y’all want to distrust scientists, fine, that is your problem. i think that is stupid, as science and research are essentially backing up our claims of too much human impact on ecosystems. across the board. I don’t want to throw out any ammunition in this war and i think folks who do, are foolish for putting political ideology ahead of using whatever tools are available to defend the land that keeps us alive. especially with a small segment of the public ready and willing to respond to appeals to reason. (i know, small, but worth it in my opinion, as the hour is late and the hand of doom is on the march – goddamn, how was that for some hyperbole!)

        and again, some common sense scientific ecological knowledge (as opposed to the fluffy feel good ecology of our shared deep philosophy) would lead any reasonable person to question how in the hell coal, canes and cars could cause 99% population declines in mammals (esp in possums, the tough ass hell rats of the eastern forest) in any given ecosystem, whether it is swamp, forest or desert in less than a decade.

        i would think that folks on the ground down there would seize on this and issue a press release, protest or whatever, condemning the captive snake trade, stupid people who turn ’em loose, the wildlife agencies for not outlawing invasive snakes a decade ago AND hit ’em all on cane, coal and cars as ancillary problems that commons sense dictates have contributed to the mammal decline. After all, if the three C’s were not a problem for the swamp, our furry friends would have more terrain to move to and get away from the rapacious reptile rascals that are causing so much damage.

        y’all have a great weekend.

  3. would y’all be interested in an article about why invasive species are just as much of a threat as coal, cane, cars, etc… or why they are just as bad as strip mines and strip mauls? they really are and as defenders of biodiversity we ignore the problem at our peril and at real costs to the land we love. if you made me rank eco-problems i would totally put invasives as #3 after strip mining and strip mauling.

    you might be able to say that i have not been to the swamp to see the ecosystem unravel from coal, cane and cars. true.

    but i live in Southern Appalachia and everyday i am watching my ecosystem unravel, not only from strip mines and strip mauls, but from the hemlock woolly adelgid, elongate hemlock scale (dead hemlocks drape our mountains now), chestnut blight, emerald ash borer, beech scale disease, kudzu, privet, microstegium grass, 1000 cankers disease, phytopthera, starlings, feral dogs and cats, gypsy moth, dogwood anthracnose, etc… ad nauseum the list goes on.

    of course, they are not sexy targets, because they are non-human life and there is no specific point of conflict to address the problem.

    i’ve been thinking about writing something anyway along the lines of “The Real Aliens that Everyone Should be Freaking Out about” or something like that.

    • Yes. I think we’re on a very similar page with most of this. I am a member of the EF! Journal collective, and i am also pretty damn involved in regional ecology issues. I was a former employee with the FL Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC), specifically working as an invasive species tech, occasionally with the the herpetologist on staff.

      No i’m not accusing the scientists who wrote the report of biostitution. I’m saying that its very prevalent in these parts. I’m saying that while I worked for the FWC, I watched reports on power plants, roads, and pipelines—the heart and arteries of this civilization—disappear off wildlife bureaucrat’s desks. (Here’s some background on that: http://pbcec.blogspot.com/2009/07/biologists-agency-ignored-reports-on.html ) Meanwhile millions of dollars in state contracts went to DuPont to save us from the invasion of non-native species. And I busted my ass spraying their chemicals cause ignoring the shit seemed worse. (That, and it was paying ecological work, albeit near-minimum wag, which ain’t all that easy to come by.)

      I realize I’m not making a clear point on the issue of Pythons in the ‘Glades, nor did our news post serve that purpose. But it has stirred up some dialogue on a complex issue for biocentrists. I just noticed that the new issue of Earth Island Journal also dug into the subject a bit as well, and is worth checking out:

      In summary, I am bummed at the loss of biodiversity from invasive species, but I won’t be going to any protests at reptile expos or demos at the homes of 12-year-old snake collecting nerds. And I’m glad there are folks out there trying to do something about the pythons, but i will remain real damn skeptical about the state and feds supposedly freakin’ out about those reptilian predators, meanwhile they oppose critical habitat designation for the Florida panther based on some hogwash political lobbying masquerading as science…

      For the wild,
      EF! Journal collective

      P.S. Yes, please do send us a submission for the Journal…

      • I think your last paragraph hits the nail on the head and i agree with you – what assholes to deny critical habitat for the Panther and then scream about this, when, had they declared critical habitat for the Panther, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 yrs ago, there would have been major incentive to deal with this problem then and not stand around wringing hands about it after a friggin’ 99% decline in mammal abundance.

        i bet those USFWS folks are kicking themselves in the asses for not doing that in the 90’s and gettin’ money from the Dems. ’cause they don’t stand a chance of getting the necessary funding now.

        that is a legit critique and much better, rational and cogent than “invasives are a destraction” as suggested by the original piece.

        and y’all totally deserve a compliment for working in Sammy Jackson and his silly movie into all of this.



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