Out in the Glades, 2013, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 7"x5"
The great Everglades Python Challenge is on, and 800 novice and experienced hunters from from 32 states and Canada are taking on the challenge. The goal will be to substantially reduce the number of invasive Burmese Pythons in the Everglades.
A combination of releases by pet owners no longer able to care for them, and damage to breeders cages during Hurricane Andrew in the early 90's. has lead to an explosive population of the snakes in the Everglades.
Python numbers have reduced native Everglade mammals to nearly extinction. The pythons don't seem to have any natural predators, eat threatened and endangered species, and compete with native animals for habitat and food. One was killed with a 76 lb deer in it's tummy. They are very strong.
It takes a certain bravado to take on a snake, especially one of the largest. Pythons can grow to lengths of 23 feet and 200 pounds. The stuff of nightmares, to be sure. But the snakes are elusive, have great camouflage, and are the winning species so far. In the first three days of the hunt the 800 hunters registered just 11 of the reptiles.
The hunters must be registered and have a GPS. They are supposed to kill the animals at the site of the capture, in the most humane way possible. The remains are to be turned in for research.
The hunt will last for a month, and there will be prizes. $1,500 for the most, and $1,000 for the longest python in two categories, the challenge hunters and regular permit holders. Hunting will end at midnight on February 10th, and you can pick up your prize at the awards event at Zoo Miami on February 10th. If you're interested, you can learn the rules and take the training online here. There's also quite a lot more about the animals on the site.
Me? I'm being VERY careful out there this week. All those inexperienced people running around the Everglades with guns and knives scare me almost as much as the snakes! I'll be in the studio!