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Entries in pythons (5)


Yeah . . . But Can You Catch a Python?

Photo by Pat Lynch of South Florida Water Management District

So . . . you can catch fish.

 But can you catch pythons? If you can or if you would like to find out if you can, check out Florida’s 2013 Python Challenge, in which prizes will be awarded to those who catch the longest and most Burmese pythons.

 Yet another exotic introduced by an irresponsible and under-regulated pet industry, the large, predatory python poses a threat not only to much of the wildlife in the Everglades, but to people and pets, as it expands its range in southern Florida.

The big question if you enter the challenge: What do you use for bait?


Alien Invasion!

We have been invaded. Casualties are high and increasing rapidly.

Your help is needed in the insurgency.

Invaders cause about $120 billion in environmental damages and losses annually. Their ranks include Asian carp, snakeheads, pythons, quagga (and zebra) mussels, iguanas, feral hogs, and hundreds of other exotic species.

Right now, the Asian carp brigade of this alien army is knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, posed and ready to obliterate a $7 billion a year sport fishery. Snakeheads could do likewise to Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

In the West, mussels have established beachheads, prompting officials to restrict access to anglers because of the fear that their boats and trailers will spread the invaders into even more waters.

Not so coincidentally, National Invasive Species Awareness Week is occurring through March 3. To learn more, go here.

For the average person, probably the most helpful link for our counter-attack is Ten Ways to Observe National Invasive Species Week.

If you fish, here’s my list of recommended tactics, not only this week, but always:

1. Thoroughly clean, drain, and dry your boat and trailer every time you leave a fishery. This helps prevent spread of both mussels and troublesome plants, including Eurasian water milfoil.

2. Never release live bait into a body of water --- unless you obtained the bait from that water. This helps contain carp and rusty crayfish, among other nuisance species.

3. Don’t wear felt-bottom waders. They are believed to be one of the main ways that didymo, or “rock snot,” is spread from stream to stream.

4. Learn to recognize Asian carp and snakeheads and immediately kill any that you catch.  If you catch one of these or any other exotic in a fishery where you did not know they were established, report your catch to state fish and game officials.

Go here to learn how to identify the snakehead and here for Asian carp.

5. After you’ve educated yourself, tell others --- including your elected officials --- about the threat posed to our fisheries, as well as all of our native plants and animals, by exotic species. And encourage them to act responsibly.

6. Get involved. Many B.A.S.S.-affiliated clubs, for example, are actively involved in projects to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

The invaders are here, established and spreading.  They are pounding us toward ecological disaster. It’s long past time to fight back.


Everglades Devastation a Warning for Fisheries?

Python swallowing an alligator.

Pythons are wiping out wildlife in the Florida Everglades.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Tampa Bay Times:

“In a report published Monday, a team of scientists said they found that between 2003 and 2011, the areas where pythons had proliferated saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons, a 98 percent drop in opossums, a 94 percent drop in white-tailed deer and an 87 percent falloff for bobcats. And that's not the worst of it.

“‘We observed no rabbits or foxes,’ the report noted.

“The bottom line: ‘In areas where pythons have been established the longest … mammal populations appear to have been severely reduced.’"

Of course, pythons are an exotic species that should not be in the Everglades. They are present because of the federal government’s failure to competently regulate the exotic pet industry.

Just add water and you get an idea of what could happen to our fish and other aquatic species because of exotic carp, snakeheads, gobies, and other invaders.

Granted, the snakehead is the only top-level aquatic predator so far --- as is the python on land --- but exotics can wipe out natives through means other than eating them. They can take over habitat and gobble up all of the food. They can introduce disease. In rare cases, they even can interbreed, weakening the genetic integrity of natives.

The truth is that established populations of invasives can have consequences that we can’t even contemplate until it’s already too late.  


Attempt to Control Invasive Plants Blossoms into Controversy

I salute Texas Parks and Wildlife for trying to protect its aquatic ecosystems and their fisheries from more devastation by invasive, non-native plants. Whether its strategy was a good one, I'm not sure.


It was compiling a "white list" of acceptable non-native aquatic plants, with more than 200 included at last report. Those not on the list would not be allowed into the state. But nurseries and the aquarium trade created such an uproar that a state senator has intervened and the plan seems to have been stopped.



Eat More Exotics!

As I've reported before, we need to eat more Asian carp and lionfish.

Now, Mother Nature Network is providing us with additional options, including recipes for such delicacies as American cannonball jellyfish and brassica rapa. Check these out and eat up!

Now . . . can anyone recommend recipes for Burmese-pythons-a-la-Florida-Everglades and zebra- mussels-all-over-the-damn-place?