Everglades Pythons Exhibit New Behaviors
“What Americans need to do is turn their attention to invasives as homeland security issues and something that has obscene costs to the taxpayer and the environment,” Graham says. Each year invasive species cause $120 billion in damage in the United States (PDF). Since 2005, state and federal agencies, along with other organizations, have spent $6 million responding to invasive constrictor snakes in the Everglades and more than $101 million on the recovery of the wood stork, which is just one of the endangered species pythons prey upon. By allowing potential invasive species into the region, we stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in the Everglades ecosystem.
Graham has a potential solution for the aliens: Create economic incentives for their removal, a method used with moderate success to eradicate other invasive species like the nutria, a rodent plaguing the Gulf States.
In its native Southeast Asia, the Burmese python, captured in large numbers for the pet and leather trade, is a threatened species. Ironically, the practice that has driven their numbers down has also brought them, as pets, to a new range where they are growing stronger every day. Human management, says Graham, can continue to shape the python’s fate and, with it, the fate of the surrounding ecosystem.
*The article originally stated that the boa constrictor was also part of the ban. The text has been corrected.