"This was a decision that had to be made," Fenwick said. "Populations of long-lived and reproductively prolific invasive snakes, such as the Burmese python, represent an ecological and economic disaster that can quickly overtake even the most far-reaching eradication efforts to protect endangered and declining species."
Furthermore, Fenwick cited the widespread destruction caused by the introduction of the brown tree snake to Guam from its native range in New Guinea and Australia in the 1950s. Preying on eggs and adult birds alike, brown tree snakes have caused the extinction of nine of the 11 native land bird species on Guam. "Its predation of native birds has been so complete that brown tree snakes now survive by feeding almost exclusively on the island's lizard species," he said.
Michael Hutchins, executive director of The Wildlife Society, agrees. "In addition to their devastating ecological impacts, these species pose a significant financial burden to taxpayers," he said. Eradicating these snakes after they establish themselves in an ecosystem is extremely difficult. Preventative measures must be taken to ensure that the havoc caused by invasive snakes in south Florida not be repeated elsewhere.
The new rule will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. It will take years to undo the damage that has been done in the Everglades but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
And for the approximately 1 million tourists who will visit the Everglades this year, these giant snakes are just one more reason to stay on the trails and boardwalks.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 or via my website, http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com.