A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

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A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by SAGlines » February 9th, 2014, 11:32 am

I was road cruising through the Everglades and I saw this large Burm off the side of the road. I immediately said to myself that was a Burm. I then dismissed it as a downed tree. I whipped around and there was healthy looking, big Burmese Python

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 9th, 2014, 1:37 pm

Is there still some sort of bounty on them?

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » February 9th, 2014, 1:56 pm

I know I'm gonna catch heck for saying this, but...that is one magnificent animal.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 9th, 2014, 2:08 pm

Magnificent and destructive imagine what he eats for breakfast

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pete » February 9th, 2014, 3:03 pm

Maybe a small raccoon for breakfast or a muskrat.
I'm with Tamara on this one. WOW!

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by JAMAUGHN » February 9th, 2014, 6:57 pm

Destructive? Yes. Magnificent? Yes.

My partner, Jessica, glanced over while I was looking at this post and said, "Wow, that's huge. Did it eat the person who was in that shoe?"

JimM

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Mike VanValen » February 9th, 2014, 7:07 pm

Quite a sight, isn't it? That's a decent sized one. 6 foot plus I'd say.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Kelly Mc » February 9th, 2014, 7:09 pm

Oh how funny - one of my favorite burms for whom I was servant was named Sneakers.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Mark Brown » February 10th, 2014, 1:47 am

Looks like it was a good week for huge burms.

http://news.msn.com/us/18-foot-burmese- ... =ansnews11

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 10th, 2014, 6:33 am

That thing dwarfs my 6 foot atroxs and EDBs. He is a beast.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Alex Pepper » February 10th, 2014, 1:23 pm

Was this just found on the 9th? Also, what time/conditions was it if you don't mind?

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by SAGlines » February 11th, 2014, 5:58 am

Alex Pepper wrote:Was this just found on the 9th? Also, what time/conditions was it if you don't mind?
It was on the 2nd of February at approximately 11:00pm clear skies, and about 72 Degrees.

It was an amazing animal. I know it doesn't belong there (and it is not anymore), but it is still a site to see.

Id' say it was close to 10 feet. I am six feet tall and my sneaker measures 13 inches. It was much bigger than 6 feet. Also, the road is twelve feet to the center line. It took two of us to lift it up into a a very large sack.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 11th, 2014, 6:21 am

Was it euthanized or did you find it a new home?

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by SAGlines » February 11th, 2014, 8:45 am

pahothand wrote:Was it euthanized or did you find it a new home?
Odds are it was euthanized. I don't know exactly. It was turned over to the NPS. Hopefully, It will be studied and maybe some good can come if it. I know people have mixed feelings about that. I know I do. However, The snakes do not belong there and are wreaking havoc on the fragile ecosystem. I also know it is not the snakes fault and it is the fault of humans. That doesn't change the fact that they need to be removed from the Everglades. If I could have it my way, they would be rescued. The reality of it though is that that probably didn't happen. I felt it would be irresponsible to let him go.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by ZantiMissKnit » February 11th, 2014, 8:52 am

SAGlines wrote:
pahothand wrote:Was it euthanized or did you find it a new home?
Odds are it was euthanized. I don't know exactly. It was turned over to the NPS. Hopefully, It will be studied and maybe some good can come if it. I know people have mixed feelings about that. I know I do. However, The snakes do not belong there and are wreaking havoc on the fragile ecosystem. I also know it is not the snakes fault and it is the fault of humans. That doesn't change the fact that they need to be removed from the Everglades. If I could have it my way, they would be rescued. The reality of it though is that that probably didn't happen. I felt it would be irresponsible to let him go.
I agree with everything you said here, Steve. It sucks that healthy animals have to be euthanized, but what are the options? Who is going to take in and care for these pythons? My guess is there are very few people who would be willing and able, financially and space-wise, to do that.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 11th, 2014, 11:00 am

Is there still some kind of a bounty on them?

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by BillMcGighan » February 11th, 2014, 11:53 am

very few people who would be willing and able, financially and space-wise, to do that.
not only this, but it should be mentioned that these are wild mature pythons, not cuddly captive born and raised animals.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by ZantiMissKnit » February 11th, 2014, 1:38 pm

Good point, Bill. They're dealing with a feral population down there.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by monklet » February 11th, 2014, 1:50 pm

pahothand wrote:That thing dwarfs my 6 foot atroxs and EDBs. He is a beast.
Please to post pics of these animals, hopefully with something to indicate scale, thx :D ..on second thought, please open a new topic, such pics would warrant that.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Mark Brown » February 11th, 2014, 2:05 pm

ZantiMissKnit wrote:Who is going to take in and care for these pythons? My guess is there are very few people who would be willing and able, financially and space-wise, to do that.
I guess the case could be made that, if these people existed, the problem with feral pythons might not be as bad as it's perceived to be. On the other hand, anyone who's irresponsible enough to dump a captive python in the Everglades probably wouldn't be responsible enough to go to the trouble to locate a qualified and willing recipient. And I suppose the jury is still out on just how the feral problem originated.

It sure would make a fascinating book.....an in-depth study of the problem, its origins and possible long-term ramifications. It would be a fun book to research, too.....there are far more interesting herps and other wildlife in the Glades than feral pythons, and all that other fauna would make the research that much more enjoyable.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Josh Holbrook » February 11th, 2014, 4:21 pm

Mark Brown wrote:
ZantiMissKnit wrote:Who is going to take in and care for these pythons? My guess is there are very few people who would be willing and able, financially and space-wise, to do that.
I guess the case could be made that, if these people existed, the problem with feral pythons might not be as bad as it's perceived to be. On the other hand, anyone who's irresponsible enough to dump a captive python in the Everglades probably wouldn't be responsible enough to go to the trouble to locate a qualified and willing recipient. And I suppose the jury is still out on just how the feral problem originated.

It sure would make a fascinating book.....an in-depth study of the problem, its origins and possible long-term ramifications. It would be a fun book to research, too.....there are far more interesting herps and other wildlife in the Glades than feral pythons, and all that other fauna would make the research that much more enjoyable.

You're right - it is really interesting to look into. Someone out there knows, but the problem is getting those old timers to talk. I do hope one of them does it someday - there must be some interesting stories of some of the exotic populations and how they got established.

On the pythons specifically though, someone (I think Mike Dorcas and some colleagues?) published something on the origins of the python population, and although it didn't delve into speculating who/where too much, they did find that the population was probably started pre-hurricane Andrew. I also talked a bit about some potential scenarios on my blog: http://fieldventures.wordpress.com/2011 ... se-python/

Back to the OP though - nice size Burm, congrats. At least we have fun invasive problems here in south Florida. . . I'll take pythons over Zebra mussels any day.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by herper1 » February 11th, 2014, 5:02 pm

I think the best option (although most expensive) would be to take them back to southern Asia and release them. I may be wrong but I thought I read somewhere they are threatened in the natural habitat. Doubt that is a viable option though. That being said it is an impresive snake, nice find !

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by pahothand » February 11th, 2014, 5:09 pm

monklet wrote:
pahothand wrote:That thing dwarfs my 6 foot atroxs and EDBs. He is a beast.
Please to post pics of these animals, hopefully with something to indicate scale, thx :D ..on second thought, please open a new topic, such pics would warrant that.
My atrox does fall short of the six foot Mark But my Adamanteus pair is not far off the mark and once the weather warms up I will try to stretch them out for a picture or two.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Tim Borski » February 11th, 2014, 6:05 pm

I don't recall my last one but I'll never forget the first:

1AM, 2 miles north of Paurotis pond. It's stretched out across both lanes. My then 6 year old was sleeping against me...I shake him awake and say "Josef, look at this!!" He looks, says "wow, that's a big one." then falls back asleep.

He didn't remember it the next morning, but I sure did.

Tim

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by monklet » February 11th, 2014, 9:17 pm

Thx PAHotHand ...a five foot and a half WDB would be well worth a peek :)

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Carl D. May » February 12th, 2014, 7:10 am

Josh Holbrook wrote:
Mark Brown wrote:
ZantiMissKnit wrote:Who is going to take in and care for these pythons? My guess is there are very few people who would be willing and able, financially and space-wise, to do that.
I guess the case could be made that, if these people existed, the problem with feral pythons might not be as bad as it's perceived to be. On the other hand, anyone who's irresponsible enough to dump a captive python in the Everglades probably wouldn't be responsible enough to go to the trouble to locate a qualified and willing recipient. And I suppose the jury is still out on just how the feral problem originated.

It sure would make a fascinating book.....an in-depth study of the problem, its origins and possible long-term ramifications. It would be a fun book to research, too.....there are far more interesting herps and other wildlife in the Glades than feral pythons, and all that other fauna would make the research that much more enjoyable.

You're right - it is really interesting to look into. Someone out there knows, but the problem is getting those old timers to talk. I do hope one of them does it someday - there must be some interesting stories of some of the exotic populations and how they got established.

On the pythons specifically though, someone (I think Mike Dorcas and some colleagues?) published something on the origins of the python population, and although it didn't delve into speculating who/where too much, they did find that the population was probably started pre-hurricane Andrew. I also talked a bit about some potential scenarios on my blog: http://fieldventures.wordpress.com/2011 ... se-python/

Back to the OP though - nice size Burm, congrats. At least we have fun invasive problems here in south Florida. . . I'll take pythons over Zebra mussels any day.

I like your theories Josh. I have always laughed (scornfully) at the serious, 'authoritative experts' on the various TV channels explaining how the sudden explosion of pythons in the ENP region was a result of Hurricane Andrew dispersing the pythons all over the everglades. I call this, The Dorothy and Toto Dispersal Method. Although there was reportedly a number of pythons lost and or escaped after the storm, the idea that they all met up and created what we now have is just too hard to believe. Especially when you consider how common they are at the furthest point (Flamingo) from the alleged dispersal point, Homestead.

Additionally, I know for a fact that the earliest python finds were in the Flamingo area years before Hurricane Andrew. A personal friend of mine captured two within a year in the late 80's near Nine Mile Pond.

I tend to suspect that the culprits were the Burmese python breeders of the late 70's and early 80's who saw the market for their hundreds of offspring dwindle and dry up. There were only so many people who were going to buy a baby python and the garage/home breeders couldn't feed and house the numbers they were producing. They were the first mass producers of large boids but the huge market for reptiles that we see today had not yet been created. So I believe the breeders came up with a solution that could benefit them in two ways. First, unload the well started neonates in a location they would most likely be able to survive in and thus your expenses for feeding them would go away. Second, since they were released in bulk they might become a self sustaining...and harvestable resource in the future. A win-win for these guys. Plus the ego factor of knowing they got pythons going in Florida was probably at least part of the idea.

The python in the OP is indeed a beauty and about as large as I have ever encountered myself. I am always torn between the idea of collecting them knowing they will be destroyed, and then just leaving them alone. At some point many of us will view them as nuisance feral animals like armadillos---something that does cause some damage and doesn't belong here, but not something you will kill on sight.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Mark Brown » February 12th, 2014, 7:43 am

I find your theory to be more plausible than anything else I've read on the subject, Carl. Anyone who has bred commonly- and easily-bred snakes knows what it's like to find oneself with a surplus of animals, and it's something that too many people fail to consider when they start breeding programs. That's why normal Burms have been sold at giveaway prices for decades.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by WSTREPS » February 12th, 2014, 10:10 am

Image

I can tell you that I am in fact the person responsible for the pythons in glades. The snake pictured is a gravid female circa 1974/5 that became too large for me to manage. I did what all irresponsible exotic pet owners do. I skipped school and flew to Florida. I released the snake in the pristine Florida wilderness. So now that that's cleared up we can all stop guessing about how the animals got there.

For a century no one was talking about Burmese pythons. It was an animal relegated to being slaughtered for skins, sold as pets or used as a sideshow attraction. With the advent of the internet as well as other mass media marketing possibility's the climate was right to create a monster. A monster that could lead to funding, be a career builder, create the 15 minutes of personal fame so many seek and get TV ratings and sell papers.

The Burmese python is now an industry unto itself. TV shows and documentaries, magazine articles, radio and newspaper interviews, books, scientific papers and research projects. There has been a flood of bandwagon jumpers, over night python experts who know little to nothing about the species or the environment they talk about.

The majority of information or perhaps it would be more correctly described as misleading information is sourced from a group of scientist who now refer to themselves as the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” or “GCRAP”. A group who collectively has a clearly demonstrable vested interest, both financial and professional to try to convince everyone how destructive and dangerous the pythons are. Many of the “GCRAP" team have directly benefited in one way or another from 100 plus million taxpayer dollars funded by the military and Congress to study brown treesnakes in Guam. They all received money to work on python projects involving Florida. “GCRAP" members such as Michael Dorcas, Bob Reed, Skip Snow, deliberately manipulate the media to push their agenda. Perception is everything.

The key to propaganda is to harp on a few untruthful and dramatic points. Its not surprising that the internet has become the ultimate tabloid. A fertile breeding ground of gossip and media fodder. The latest being an effort to convince everyone that there has been a significant decline in the Everglades mammal species due to the pythons. This based on NO solid scientific evidence as admitted by the researchers themselves. Their offerings are no more then anecdotal, speculative, or based upon limited field observation. Yet they have been escalated into fear mongering fact via a plethora of press releases. And that was the intent. Plan B so to speak after failing to scare the nation into thinking that the snakes would take over the country.

As this is often the case, the truth is difficult to find and takes a genuine standard of expertise to identify. To those that have a well-educated understanding and profound knowledge of the situation. The degenerated science and dubious actions perpetrated by the members of the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” are deplorable.

To the bandwagon jumpers who have little to no actual knowledge or personal experience as well as the ones who are looking to move in on the action, the easily accessed junk science and misleading propaganda provides them with a chance to sound like an "expert". Perhaps grab some of that funding or get their 15 minutes of fame. The actions of these individuals is as deplorable as those of the “GCRAP" team.

Ernie Eison

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Mark Brown » February 12th, 2014, 10:42 am

I would far rather have all the python money and energy spent on imported fire ants, for example, or one of the many other invasives that actually pose a real, substantial and immediate threat to the environment. Unfortunately, as you allude, nobody will get rich and famous firing up the bandwagon over fire ants.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Josh Holbrook » February 12th, 2014, 11:12 am

WSTREPS wrote:Image

I can tell you that I am in fact the person responsible for the pythons in glades. The snake pictured is a gravid female circa 1974/5 that became too large for me to manage. I did what all irresponsible exotic pet owners do. I skipped school and flew to Florida. I released the snake in the pristine Florida wilderness. So now that that's cleared up we can all stop guessing about how the animals got there.

For a century no one was talking about Burmese pythons. It was an animal relegated to being slaughtered for skins, sold as pets or used as a sideshow attraction. With the advent of the internet as well as other mass media marketing possibility's the climate was right to create a monster. A monster that could lead to funding, be a career builder, create the 15 minutes of personal fame so many seek and get TV ratings and sell papers.

The Burmese python is now an industry unto itself. TV shows and documentaries, magazine articles, radio and newspaper interviews, books, scientific papers and research projects. There has been a flood of bandwagon jumpers, over night python experts who know little to nothing about the species or the environment they talk about.

The majority of information or perhaps it would be more correctly described as misleading information is sourced from a group of scientist who now refer to themselves as the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” or “GCRAP”. A group who collectively has a clearly demonstrable vested interest, both financial and professional to try to convince everyone how destructive and dangerous the pythons are. Many of the “GCRAP" team have directly benefited in one way or another from 100 plus million taxpayer dollars funded by the military and Congress to study brown treesnakes in Guam. They all received money to work on python projects involving Florida. “GCRAP" members such as Michael Dorcas, Bob Reed, Skip Snow, deliberately manipulate the media to push their agenda. Perception is everything.

The key to propaganda is to harp on a few untruthful and dramatic points. Its not surprising that the internet has become the ultimate tabloid. A fertile breeding ground of gossip and media fodder. The latest being an effort to convince everyone that there has been a significant decline in the Everglades mammal species due to the pythons. This based on NO solid scientific evidence as admitted by the researchers themselves. Their offerings are no more then anecdotal, speculative, or based upon limited field observation. Yet they have been escalated into fear mongering fact via a plethora of press releases. And that was the intent. Plan B so to speak after failing to scare the nation into thinking that the snakes would take over the country.

As this is often the case, the truth is difficult to find and takes a genuine standard of expertise to identify. To those that have a well-educated understanding and profound knowledge of the situation. The degenerated science and dubious actions perpetrated by the members of the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” are deplorable.

To the bandwagon jumpers who have little to no actual knowledge or personal experience as well as the ones who are looking to move in on the action, the easily accessed junk science and misleading propaganda provides them with a chance to sound like an "expert". Perhaps grab some of that funding or get their 15 minutes of fame. The actions of these individuals is as deplorable as those of the “GCRAP" team.

Ernie Eison

Ernie, as a Bible' thumpin' libertarian, I certainly understand your concerns about government funded projects and the like, I think that federal government sponsored science is often more a matter of politics than the actual constitutional basis for it (general welfare.) BUT with that said, I've met most of the people you mentioned in person, and would not be so quick to soil their names by assuming a bias on their part without evidence. You act as if seeking to do quality, unbiased work and answer important questions while seeking to advance ones career are always at odds, if this were the case, career advancement wouldn't be a thing... Additionally, you don't know any of these people personally (I'm assuming, please correct me if I'm wrong.) It's easy to dehumanize someone and call them "deplorable" if you've never looked into their eyes or held a conversation with them: but don't do that, because you might just end up sitting down for a beer with them and (tragedy of tragedies!) getting to like them as a person.

My main question is though; why don't you and others that think like you do (USARK?), or those that just want to know the truth and feel that gov't funding might endanger that pursuit, put up some money to have a study done to attempt to nullify their hypothesis of mammal population declines correlating with python increase in Florida? As I said, I understand your point: my study, which was the first to look at mammal populations and suggest a connection to python presence, received no government money whatsoever - just a couple hundred dollar research grant from my private, Baptist university and my own herping money. My objective wasn't to get money, or jobs (I haven't ever held a job in herpetology or invasive species even since then) - I just noticed an oddity (no raccoons at the ENP campgrounds, despite leaving a plate of meat out overnight; whereas they were abundant a couple of years before), and decided to look for possible causes as best I could given limited resources. Was it a perfect study? Absolutely not, but it was adequate to get us all thinking that "Hey, there might be a problem" and hopefully conducting follow up studies to see if they confirm the suspicions of the first study. So, in my case, all your allegations of bias and money-grubbing are unfounded, and all is left is your allegations of "bad science", which has, for many, become synonymous with "science I don't agree with." Once again, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and try to come to the actual truth of the matter rather that throwing out insults and ad hominem attacks? What is your objective - searching for truth or looking better/more right/winning a fight? If the answer is the latter, then you're just as influenced by the adrenaline-soaked, violent, agenda-driven media as anyone else.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by WSTREPS » February 12th, 2014, 3:14 pm

". You act as if seeking to do quality, unbiased work and answer important questions while seeking to advance ones career are always at odds, if this were the case, career advancement wouldn't be a thing...
What you are doing is putting YOUR perspective into my words.Twisting what was said and how it applys contextually to the subject to deflect the truth away from what was the actual point. The sanctimonious picture you attempt to paint of these individuals and their motives comes from a point of , I`ll give you the benifit of the doublt ( I believe to be true) a very naive attitude. Everything I said was right on point. Knowledge and experience. There's nothing wrong with giving someone the benefit of the doubt if you so choose, but in this case it's no longer warranted. The guilty are guilty. Convicted by their own words and actions. Unless someone wants to go along with the program, to continue to buy into the agenda filled deception or add to it can come from one of two places a lack of Knowledge and experience or stupidity.
I said, I understand your point: my study, which was the first to look at mammal populations and suggest a connection to python presence, received no government money whatsoever - just a couple hundred dollar research grant from my private, Baptist university and my own herping money. My objective wasn't to get money, or jobs (I haven't ever held a job in herpetology or invasive species even since then) - I just noticed an oddity (no raccoons at the ENP campgrounds, despite leaving a plate of meat out overnight; whereas they were abundant a couple of years before), and decided to look for possible causes as best I could given limited resources. Was it a perfect study? Absolutely not, but it was adequate to get us all thinking that "Hey, there might be a problem" and hopefully conducting follow up studies to see if they confirm the suspicions of the first study.
I never mentioned you or your study. Your opinion piece might have filled the necessary criteria of grammar, punctuation and form to get published in Florida Scientist but it really does not qualify as a "study" from a scientific standpoint. You drove around for 18 nights was it ?, and tried to count what you saw. NOTHING to date, including what has been presented by the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” amounts to anything more than observations made of mammals while driving on the roadways in and around ENP.

As for your self funding and career goals. Are you seriously trying to draw a comparison between yourself and the career implications involved with the escalation of python mania involving those I mentioned?
My main question is though; why don't you and others that think like you do (USARK?), or those that just want to know the truth and feel that gov't funding might endanger that pursuit, put up some money to have a study done to attempt to nullify their hypothesis of mammal population declines correlating with python increase in Florida?
And do you think spending a few hundred bucks driving around is going to accomplish that ? How about a few hundred thousand ? You can't disprove what hasn't been proven or can't be proven. Let alone nullify a guess with another guess. That's what “GCRAP" counts on. As I pointed out, there have been many published studies showing declines involving Everglades wildlife, birds, fish, mammals all attributing these declines to the Everglades dysfunctional hydrology. None of these study's mention pythons . The way to nullify the hypothesis of the mammal population declines correlating with a python increase in Florida. Is how it's been and is being done.

That is to point out the many flaws and deceptions that have been thrown out by the members of the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” and friends. Expose the holes in the scientifically unsound methods employed and by revealing the many facts that “GCRAP" conveniently leave out (the withholding of scientific information that might be detrimental to their goal). Exposing their self serving motives and by using the researchers' own words that can be found in the scientific small print. Statements such as,

"“However, our reliance on indirect estimates
of mammal abundance in ENP is the result of a nearly
complete absence of actual density or population size estimates
based on rigorous and repeatable field methods.”

This is included by the “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” as a tiny disclaimer , lest anyone suppose they were biased.

What they do is reminiscent of cheesy TV commercials with 30 seconds of screaming about how their great product will improve your life, then at the end they whisper we don't guarantee it will. They do this because they know the crap they're selling is garbage and they have to protect themselves.

What the quoted statement means in common terms , is what they want to keep on the down low. They have no idea how many mammals existed in ENP before or after Burmese pythons. They have no idea of the distribution habitat preferences/requirements, or population densities of mammals in ENP before and after Burmese pythons. They have absolutely no idea about the naturally occurring population cycles for any mammals in ENP. Their hypothesis that the pythons are causing a decline let alone a dramatic decline in the Everglades mammal population does not have a leg to stand on. But that's not how it gets presented in the press releases, internet blogs, the rumor mill and that's exactly what they want and are hoping for. Its all they have .


Ernie Eison

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by VanAR » February 12th, 2014, 3:42 pm

LOL, let me assure you guys that, as an NSF- funded researcher, the last thing the government cares about in terms of "political biases driving science" is burmese pythons, in any way, shape, or form. The politics involved in getting government grant funding have nothing to do with supporting any given idea over another, and everything to do with convincing the government funding body that the taxpayer's money is going to be used to study a big-picture, real-world problem. Grants are rewarded on the basis of an idea being relevant to study. The results of the study are not yet known, and once known, the funding body has no control over how, when, or where the study is published. The funding body wants papers to be published in high-quality journals to justify the research expense (because papers are often the only tangible product of the research), but it is up to the funded researcher to actually do this.

Even if you read senator Tom Coburn's (misguided) criticisms of NSF funding, his argument is that the ideas being tested are not worth taxpayer money, not that they don't provide the answers the government would like to see (in his case, a lack of support for global warming, evolution, etc.).

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by luv_the_smellof_musk » February 12th, 2014, 5:50 pm

I have a a few ideas why Pythons are the perfect PR machine.
1) A lot of people fear snakes, so the alleged need to "control snakes" has immediate public appeal
2) Most wildlife issues are impossible to address while simultaneously encouraging population growth and development.
3) People still want to feel good that the government is doing something for wildlife and the environment.
4) Focusing on miniscule issues like pythons allows the government to make it seem like they are doing something positive, while turning a blind eye to habitat destruction and overpopulation (neither of which would be popular issues to address).
5) It's easy to claim the reptile industry "caused a problem" thereby providing a scapegoat industry to blame rather than the more significant sources of invasive species (Aunt LuLu doesn't want to hear that her exotic landscaping is spreading invasive species and disease or that she can't get imported goods at her second home in Hawaii).

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Bryan Hamilton » February 12th, 2014, 8:34 pm

“Industry has learned that debating the science is much easier and more effective than debating the policy, In field after field, year after year, conclusions that might support regulation are always disputed. Animal data are deemed not relevant, human data not representative, and exposure data not reliable.” David Michaels discussing the "sound science" campaign used by the tobacco industry to discredit the effects of secondhand smoke.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Kelly Mc » February 12th, 2014, 9:04 pm

Whenever I listen to Zeppelin's Kashmir it sounds like soundtrack to a python or an anaconda, a really big one, moving, turning, heaving over and around like a huge secret in the muck.

Boa constrictors - especially their pattern and iridescence remind me of Santana.



we now return you to your regular program...

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by VanAR » February 13th, 2014, 12:03 am

Thanks, John, for pointing out the differences between scientific uncertainty and media hype. Too often those details get lost in the shuffle and scientists get blamed for media's fearmongering.
John Vanek wrote:That said, I often hear of this "hydrology" rebuttal, but never from the literature. If this is a valid hypothesis, I would love to learn more about it. Maybe it is in press right now, but so far, only 13 articles have cited this PNAS paper, and none are rebuttals. You know what scientists LOVE to do? Show that other scientists are wrong. Why hasn't anyone done that yet?
Testing the hydrology hypothesis should be relatively easy. If the hydrology has changed sufficiently to affect these mammals, many of which are highly terrestrial and do not require significant access to aquatic habitats, then it should also have changed enough to impact aquatic and semi-aquatic species to an even greater degree. Furthermore, it should be possible to investigate effects on aquatic species that are not prey for pythons. These should show no direct effect of python presence (but could be impacted by trophic cascades as a result of pythons potentially removing mesomammal predators). Also, given that efforts are now underway to improve/restore the hydrology of the everglades (via the Kissimmee river, anyway), then we should see somewhat of a rebound in these species.

If pythons are the cause, then it is conversely likely that we may see major increases in some groups of aquatic species, especially turtles and possibly also alligators, whose nest predation by many of these small mammal predators will be substantially reduced.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Josh Holbrook » February 13th, 2014, 7:21 am

VanAR wrote:
If pythons are the cause, then it is conversely likely that we may see major increases in some groups of aquatic species, especially turtles and possibly also alligators, whose nest predation by many of these small mammal predators will be substantially reduced.
Bingo; I mentioned as much in my study - and from what I gather there are studies underway to test this hypothesis. That was the point I was trying to make; that even if you're a government-mistrusting type, that in-and-of itself isn't enough to immediately call the python stuff junk science. And I know for a fact that some of the top python researchers have tried to get private funding from places like USARK, but I think a lot of people like to plug their ears and babel about bad science and government conspiracies rather than actually contributing to the conversation (or even offering a well-informed hypothesis.) Like I said, I have my small collection of tin foil hats, but to assume that all the python researchers are both nefarious and bad scientists is folly.


WSTREPS wrote: There's nothing wrong with giving someone the benefit of the doubt if you so choose, but in this case it's no longer warranted. The guilty are guilty. Convicted by their own words and actions. Unless someone wants to go along with the program, to continue to buy into the agenda filled deception or add to it can come from one of two places a lack of Knowledge and experience or stupidity.
Once again, I'm more than suspicious of a lot of stuff; but suspicions should be based on actual evidence (which you've given none of) and not inconveniences. Your quick judgements would probably be more home in 1960s Cuba than here.
WSTREPS wrote:But that's not how it gets presented in the press releases, internet blogs, the rumor mill and that's exactly what they want and are hoping for.
...And then there's Ernie Eison, surely his reasoned, professional, well thought out responses will convince the masses, scientific community and politicians otherwise.

That's the problem with responses like yours; they alienate people - you would think people like me who have done research on pythons and have contributed to the academic conversation on them would be people you'd want to have reasoned, well thought out conversations with... Especially when they are against any form of ban or restriction on Python ownership (that is the heart of the issue right - your wallet gets hurt?) All the python biologists I've met/worked with have been courteous, kind and professional even if we disagree; and if we do disagree we have exchanges based on logic and reason. On the other hand, a majority of people I've met on the other side of the argument, seem to be quick to be demeaning and unprofessional. I don't necessarily hold it against them, as a Christian I'm to be quick to forgive, but the fact remains that you would have a lot more friends (even allies) in the herp work (especially the citizen scientist/professional biologist part who actually respect the scientific process) if you would try reason and civility over your current methodology. Perhaps some of the other herpers who agree with this last statement could chime in and confirm. . .

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Daryl Eby » February 13th, 2014, 7:44 am

Chiming in. Confirming. That's all I've got.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by jimoo742 » February 13th, 2014, 8:40 am

VanAR wrote:

Testing the hydrology hypothesis should be relatively easy. If the hydrology has changed sufficiently to affect these mammals, many of which are highly terrestrial and do not require significant access to aquatic habitats, then it should also have changed enough to impact aquatic and semi-aquatic species to an even greater degree. Furthermore, it should be possible to investigate effects on aquatic species that are not prey for pythons. These should show no direct effect of python presence (but could be impacted by trophic cascades as a result of pythons potentially removing mesomammal predators). Also, given that efforts are now underway to improve/restore the hydrology of the everglades (via the Kissimmee river, anyway), then we should see somewhat of a rebound in these species.

If pythons are the cause, then it is conversely likely that we may see major increases in some groups of aquatic species, especially turtles and possibly also alligators, whose nest predation by many of these small mammal predators will be substantially reduced.
Are there aquatic habitat dependent species that are both not prey for pythons and not prey for raccoons/opossums/etc? I have no idea if there is.

Otherwise, it could be loss off habitat (and resulting decline) could be offset by reduction in predation (and resulting proliferation).

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Carl D. May » February 13th, 2014, 9:59 am

From Josh:
That's the problem with responses like yours; they alienate people - you would think people like me who have done research on pythons and have contributed to the academic conversation on them would be people you'd want to have reasoned, well thought out conversations with... Especially when they are against any form of ban or restriction on Python ownership (that is the heart of the issue right - your wallet gets hurt?) All the python biologists I've met/worked with have been courteous, kind and professional even if we disagree; and if we do disagree we have exchanges based on logic and reason. On the other hand, a majority of people I've met on the other side of the argument, seem to be quick to be demeaning and unprofessional. I don't necessarily hold it against them, as a Christian I'm to be quick to forgive, but the fact remains that you would have a lot more friends (even allies) in the herp work (especially the citizen scientist/professional biologist part who actually respect the scientific process) if you would try reason and civility over your current methodology. Perhaps some of the other herpers who agree with this last statement could chime in and confirm. . .


This is my feeling on the matter as well. I am just as suspicious of the commercial reptile industry as I am of nutty, hair-triggered politicians. Although USARK has its uses it is also one sided and highly biased in favor of people making money off of animal sales.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by beemaster » February 13th, 2014, 10:03 am

Kelly Mc wrote:Whenever I listen to Zeppelin's Kashmir it sounds like soundtrack to a python or an anaconda, a really big one, moving, turning, heaving over and around like a huge secret in the muck.

Boa constrictors - especially their pattern and iridescence remind me of Santana.



we now return you to your regular program...
As a dude obsessed with both Zeppelin and snakes, I don't really hear it with this particular song, but I know exactly what you're talking about. I also hear songs from time to time that somehow faithfully describe the life, movements, or interactions of my favorite wildlife. I think it's rooted more deeply in our subconscious preoccupation with these animals than with any sort of accurate representation of said animals.

My favorite example - Nostalgia by Gorguts. The song is easily found on youtube and I'm not gonna post it because we're already a little off topic. Very harsh song; heavy, dissonant, almost haunting. I can guarantee almost everyone here would HATE this song. When I follow the song, however, I can see and even feel the movements of a snake.

0:00-1:05
I feel a moderately large constrictor, like a pine, rat or larger kingsnake species, slowly prowling through the undergrowth.

1:05-2:11
The snake finds a burrow (or some surface cover) to explore... roots around for a while.

2:11-2:43
Picks up on the scent of prey, starts to track it.

2:43-2:52
Target acquired! Tongue flickering, our protagonist squares up the target and lines up the point of attack...

2:52-3:13
Strike, constriction...

3:13-3:46
The struggle intensifies; the prey fights with everything it has while the hero of our story continues to tighten it's grip on every exhalation...

3:46-4:32
The struggle is over, the attack has been a success. We move on to the slow, arduous process of swallowing such a large food item.

4:32-5:38
Rather than nestle in the relative safety of the burrow (or surface cover), our snake slowly trudges back the underbrush immediately outside. There, the snake finds a nice spot where it can safely soak up some much needed rays to help digest this rather impressive dinner.

5:38-6:09
Fast asleep, our hero is totally unaware until it is far too late that it has been spotted. Too full to flee with success, the snake is forced to take an aggressive defense and strikes viciously, but harmlessly, at it's two legged adversary. Whether it ultimately ends up in a bag, studied, and released, or is ignorantly smashed to bits with a stick is rather ambiguous. It is clear by now, however, that our story has ended.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by WSTREPS » February 13th, 2014, 5:07 pm

That's the problem with responses like yours; they alienate people - you would think people like me who have done research on pythons and have contributed to the academic conversation on them would be people you'd want to have reasoned, well thought out conversations with... Especially when they are against any form of ban or restriction on Python ownership (that is the heart of the issue right - your wallet gets hurt?)
Dead wrong. My wallet is of no consequence. Various attempts to discredit me by dismissing my comments and view as nothing more than the rantings of a disgruntled snake dealer. Are completely without merit. Its an empty argument that has and never will hold up. My views of the "GCRAP" and their work are not in anyway shaped by my views of the live trade. If anything I've have been an equally hard critic of the live trade.

If my honest, well rounded and informed (certainly far better then 99.9 % of the people that post in these thread's) , albeit blunt views are disconcerting or alienating to some, I can live with it. They have never and will never come with a spoon full of sugar. Often times the truth is not pleasant but its still the truth.
Once again, I'm more than suspicious of a lot of stuff; but suspicions should be based on actual evidence (which you've given none of) and not inconveniences. Your quick judgements would probably be more home in 1960s Cuba than here.
lots of amateur 'python experts' who fail to grasp the most basic concepts in snake ecology and who try to minimize the scale of the problem. Bob Reed aka the narrowfellow / “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” guru.
My judgments have been anything but quick and are supported by far more then just suspicions . Being courteous, kind and professional does not equate to honesty in fact, many times it's the opposite. Cordiality does not only apply to "nice people " but also scheming liars, dishonest politicians, etc. Scientist are not excluded from this. Some of the worst people I know can be real sweethearts.

The members “Giant Constrictor Risk Assessment Partnership,” have been and will no doubt continue to be dishonest. Blaming the media is a weak argument considering its the actions of The "GCRAP" that are manipulating the media. Beginning with the outlandish climate modeling maps that appeared on the front of USA today. Its been non stop ever since. The differences between scientific uncertainty and media hype? The only difference is they are careful about their wording in the published works and disclaimers. I pointed this out and why. Off the record so to speak things are different.

Example of this. In the above statement Bob Reed clearly says the scale of the problem. In fact he makes it known that its a big problem. The problem being the pythons are eating all the Everglades mammals. He says this when he knows full well that there is no real evidence that there is a problem. It is a statement of absolute certainty. Intended to push his agenda. There is no disclaimer of uncertainty. That the game in a nut shell.

When you talk about actual evidence its the "GCRAP" that are falling short. And that's exactly why they use the deceptive tactics they use. They get out their biggest hammers and try their best to smash that square peg into the round hole. They want to make everyone believe that it fit all along.


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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Bryan Hamilton » February 13th, 2014, 6:09 pm

Anyone that knows Bob Reed knows that his only agenda is doing good science. He is very good at it.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by VanAR » February 13th, 2014, 6:16 pm

jimoo742 wrote:
VanAR wrote:
Are there aquatic habitat dependent species that are both not prey for pythons and not prey for raccoons/opossums/etc? I have no idea if there is.
Most of the larger fish would fit that description. In fact, the invasive fish would be ideal for this type of study because their populations should be increasing or at least relatively stable if the hydrology is stable, but if the hydrology is substantially disrupted then those species should be facing the same negative effects (if not more) than everything else.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » February 14th, 2014, 4:32 am

...but the fact remains that you would have a lot more friends (even allies) in the herp work (especially the citizen scientist/professional biologist part who actually respect the scientific process) if you would try reason and civility over your current methodology. Perhaps some of the other herpers who agree with this last statement could chime in and confirm. . .
Chime, confirm.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by jimoo742 » February 14th, 2014, 6:24 am

VanAR wrote:
Most of the larger fish would fit that description. In fact, the invasive fish would be ideal for this type of study because their populations should be increasing or at least relatively stable if the hydrology is stable, but if the hydrology is substantially disrupted then those species should be facing the same negative effects (if not more) than everything else.

Thank you.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Josh Holbrook » February 14th, 2014, 6:44 am

jimoo742 wrote:
VanAR wrote:
Most of the larger fish would fit that description. In fact, the invasive fish would be ideal for this type of study because their populations should be increasing or at least relatively stable if the hydrology is stable, but if the hydrology is substantially disrupted then those species should be facing the same negative effects (if not more) than everything else.

Thank you.
I'm not so sure about that (the exotics populations) - a lot of our exotic fish are air gulpers, and good invaders/colonizers on top of that: I think a lot of that would depend on how the native fish cope with hydrologic modification. If they (the natives) are negatively effected, the exotics (the dominate species in the deep refuges/canals) would likely move in to capitalize on the disturbance and less competition. But, yeah, you're right, most fish species are not going to be prey for small mammals or pythons; Alligators that reach a size refuge of 5 feet or so are probably in that group. Actually, it might be interesting to look at survivorship on some of the Alligators since there've been long term surveys for them; although Alligators can also benefit from poor hydrology (concentrated food) which just confounds anything. I think the takehome is, short of a really expensive project, it's hard to figure some of these big questions out.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by BillMcGighan » February 14th, 2014, 7:24 am

JH
but the fact remains that you would have a lot more friends (even allies) in the herp work (especially the citizen scientist/professional biologist part who actually respect the scientific process) if you would try reason and civility over your current methodology. Perhaps some of the other herpers who agree with this last statement could chime in and confirm. . .
Chime, confirm.



Ernie, all my life I've dabbled in both worlds of citizen science and deli cups. I understand your level of frustration and ranting from what seems like an attack by extremists like PETA and opportunistic politicians and media, but I think you'll find most folks on this forum are in the middle.

I certainly am. It drives me crazy when I hear some town (or even state) bans something (herp or otherwise) based on ignorance, but I also realize the scientific process is self checking over time, so if a study or its conclusion is flawed, it will be reined in by peer reviews.

Josh’s point of civility is well taken if you’re trying to sway the opinion of folks who could be sympathetic to your cause.
If you’re ranting and making attacks on individuals because it makes you feel better, then you’re no friend of your cause.
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Here are some questions on the regulations of the big constrictors (and apologies to the OP for this entire hijack):

Were these banning movements, which may or may not be justified, not expected by the breeders?
Should not the large constrictor breeding industry have regulated itself 20 or 30 years ago?


What comes to mind are the deli cup shows, as early as the ‘80s where you could (and still can today), with or without proper training or experience, buy for $30, a giant constrictor that, if well cared for, can grow to a lethal length in just a few years.

The best that can come from this is that the animal is purchased by a herp knowledgeable person who addresses its needs and safety.

More often than not, the buyer realizes at some point, that much larger facilities are required, so he/she finds a zoo/rescue/breeder that will take this wonderful pet back.

The worst is that the animal is mistreated by keeper ignorance, somehow grows to 8 ft +, escapes the 30 gal aquarium, and kills Fido, Felix, or baby sister.

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by klawnskale » February 14th, 2014, 12:02 pm

Here is an article dated 02/05/2014 related to the topic. Do you think this python is over 18 feet?

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nationa ... ntpostform

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Re: A big Burmese python in Everglades National Park.

Post by Antonsrkn » February 14th, 2014, 12:36 pm

The snakes, one of the largest species in the world, found a home to their liking in the Everglades when pet owners started using the wetlands as a convenient dumping ground.
:roll: That last line.....

I don't know I'm terrible at judging distances of any sort and the shots aren't great ones to judge by. I'd guess 14-15 ft myself.

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