Researchers at Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve pulled a 140-pound Burmese python out of the swamp this week, and promptly posted a public service selfie with the big constrictor. The 17-foot snake was the largest ever found in the preserve, and she was full of developing eggs.
The team removed the python from the park, and when we say removed we mean measured, weighed, and humanely dispatched. Those baby pythons are never going to hatch either. Pythons are an invasive species in Florida, and the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey have come up with some crafty ways to seek and destroy them.
They found this big momma by strapping radio transmitters to male pythons which, come to find out, spend much of their time looking for female pythons. The team takes no joy in the task, which is necessary to restore the preserve’s ecological balance. Giant pythons, the agency says, pose “significant threats to native wildlife” in Florida.
“They are being humanely euthanized because they are having a huge, negative impact on native animals such as deer, wading birds, and even Florida panthers by taking away food from the endangered native Panther,” according to the preserve. Most of the pythons in Florida are descendants of pet snakes released into the wild when they got too big, or that escaped from post-hurricane chaos to survive, and thrive, in the swamps.
Citing a 2011 study, NPR reports that sightings of some of the python’s favorite foods such as rabbits, foxes, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and opossums decreased by more than 90 percent in the Everglades, while python sightings have been on the rise.