Pythons have been all over the news of late. A recent paper reported the decline of certain mammals in Everglades National Park since the introduction of pythons a number of years ago. The title states that mammal population declines coincide with python population proliferation. The paper takes available data, and reports it with some conclusions. It is flawed, but it is a starting point to look at a very difficult problem to try and study. Yet, tons of fear mongers are freaking out and wondering when the humans are next on the menu? This is not the researchers fault. They are just presenting their data, yet our current society pulls the crap out of there and turns it into a horror story. News agencies. papers and blogs all across the country are spinning sensationalist stories, and I imagine most of them never even read the actual article...
Notice I didn't link these other blogs, papers, magazines, etc. I linked the actual article. I suggest if you have any interest you read it too. I am frustrated because I am leaving for a trip to the Everglades on Friday. I am extremely excited to kayak the back country and camp on a barrier island or two. I hope to do some fishing, a little birding, a lot of photography and much herping. Everyone who hears about my trip the last few days has warned me to "watch out for the pythons", or "try not to get eaten". This is all complete crap. I admit the pythons are there. I admit they are a huge problem. I admit they need to be studied. I admit that they are likely having detrimental impacts on the Everglades ecosystem. We do not yet fully understand their impact or role, and honestly we never will. We also will not eradicate them. This is all scary. I understand people will hate them because they are snakes. I understand they are very big. They are not what media will have you believe though. Most people probably think I am full of crap, but I have actually seen pythons in the Everglades. I also know a couple people who worked on that exact python paper, and who have caught countless pythons over the years. If you asked me or any of them if they feared for their lives going to the Everglades because of the pythons I bet you would might get some chuckles.
We will never fully understand this situation. We will do our best to try, because it does matter, and because declines are worrisome. The study was just the tip of the iceburg though. They used road cruising techniques because that was the only available data from before the introduction of the pythons. If you look at a map of ENP though, there sure isn't much road running through all that swamp... We do have to keep studying this situation. We do not need to make blanket, knee jerk reactions out of fear.
Maybe this time next week I will have new python pictures. What I really hope is that I will have pictures of animals that are really awesome, such as the eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake or the endangered american crocodile. I will try not to be eaten in the process.