Everglade’s Newest Unwelcome Residents
Southern Florida is now dealing with a new crisis in the Everglades, and not one you’d expect. The park has been invaded by sixteen-foot pythons.
Yet this isn’t a relatively new development, as park rangers began to notice these invasive species slithering amok twelve years ago. They speculate that the snakes were released from their homes where they were kept as pets, either as a result of negligence or possibly hurricanes.
Officials are under the belief that there are, at the least, tens of thousands of these pythons inhabiting the reservation, having caught and relocated over three hundred a year for the past four years.
All over the United States, there is some instances of “stray” pythons, but in no location is their presence as devastating as it is to the unique ecosystem of the Everglades. These snakes have been thriving, multiplying their numbers, and, as a result, annihilating the local mammalian populations.
For example, in an eight year span, raccoon populations plummeted to just 0.7 percent of their previous numbers. Opossum populations fell by 98.9% and bobcats dropped by 87.5%. Some species, such as foxes, were not even able to be surveyed, as none were found in the affected areas.