The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held an open Burmese python killing competition from January 12th through February 10th. The competition drew in 1,600 registrants all vying for prizes up to $1,500. The final count of 68 pythons was small compared to the estimated 100,000 pythons slithering through the Everglades. However, the wildlife commission stated their main aim was to raise awareness about the invasive pythons, which I think they succeeded in. This story has been consistently in the news over the past month. Python sightings began in 1979 and is most likely due to pet owners releasing the animals after the snakes became to large to handle. The pythons have no natural predators and have drastically impacted the rabbit, fox, raccoon, opossum, and bobcat populations. The prey animals have either disappeared or dropped as much as 99%!
Invasive species are a major issue for conservation. They are non-native species introduced to a region, and they can cause incredible upsets in ecosystem dynamics. There are different ways people go about trying to regulate invasive species, and I think the prize money and hunting option is a really good one. However, not all foundations have the funds to hold competitions like this. Some companies try poisoning or introducing other species to the area that are predators of the current nuisance. I think most of the time the new species introduced to the region starts over-running the area after they consume the initial nuisance. I don’t know if a super effective method of regulating invasive species has been discovered yet but, if the resources are available, I think this public awareness and competition method is probably the best so far. It helps control the species and raise awareness without further upsetting the ecosystem by introducing a new species or potentially harming other species with harsh chemicals.