The Everglades Feature
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The Everglades War on Pythons
In 2013, Florida launched its first Python Challenge® to put the kibosh on Burmese pythons, those deadly snakes literally squeezing the life out of Everglades wonders, from colorful birds to full-grown deer to gators.
The state-sponsored winter competition was a trailblazer, attracting amateurs and professionals alike from 38 states and Canada to help decimate this growing environmental threat. Sadly, only 68 pythons were captured out of the thousands estimated to live in the Everglades.
Even experienced 'Gladesmen with special permits to regularly stalk these predators had trouble finding them—partly because tan, splotchy skin provides natural camouflage for slithering about and causing mayhem within the ecosystem. Unseasonably warm winter weather also left the pythons, which grow up to 26-feet long, without incentive to boldly sun themselves.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior—hailing a milestone in Everglades protection—announced a nationwide ban on the import of Burmese pythons and other non-native, large constrictor snakes, including both northern and southern African pythons and the yellow anaconda.
No matter what the future of the state's Python Challenge®, its war against invasive species and the efforts to protect Everglades wildlife continue unabated.—By Lynne HelmUpdated: 10-2013
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