Present in Florida since the 1980s, pythons have multiplied on the territory over the years, until they become an invasive species. Today, local authorities are considering employing a rather surprising method to regulate the growing population in the Everglades. In particular, they are in the process of determining whether the reptile can be eaten without harming the health of consumers.
An invasive species in Florida
A few weeks ago, two Americans captured a python six meters long and fifty kilograms in Everglades National Park, a national record according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Pythons are particularly present in this region. If we do not know their exact number, it is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 individuals could find refuge in these regions.
Unfortunately, this reptile threatens the Everglades ecosystem. To feed, it attacks in particular the native species of the region. A 2012 study pointed to a drop of 99.3% and 98.9% respectively in the populations of raccoons and opossums since the 1990s. Two mammals which are said to be regularly found in the belly of pythons captured in the park located in Florida.
To cope with the invasion, a python elimination program was put in place in 2017. Since then, more than 6,000 specimens have been captured, including around 2,000 during the first eight months of 2020. In addition, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District also encourage the local population to kill the snakes ” cruelty free When they can.
As several patrols continue to track snakes, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Health have teamed up to conduct a new study to determine if the species can be eaten without harm to health. Scientists will have to assess the level of mercury in the body of animals.
” Mercury bioaccumulates in the environment and high concentrations of mercury are found at the top of the food chain where pythons have unfortunately positioned themselves. We expect the results to discourage the public from consuming pythons, but if we can determine that they are safe to eat, it will be very helpful in controlling their population. Explained Mike Kirkland, manager of the Python Elimination Program.