Senator to join python hunt
January 16th, 2013
06:20 PM ET
2 years ago

Senator to join python hunt

(CNN) - To make his point about invasive snakes, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson once brought the skin from a 16-foot Burmese python to a Senate committee hearing.

Now, he's out to get one for himself.

Nelson has spoken out on the issue for several years, and on Thursday will personally join in the latest effort to reduce their numbers: the state-sanctioned python hunt in the Florida Everglades.

The state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering a total of $2,500 in cash prizes for the hunter who bags the most and the longest of the invasive snake species. Experts recommend either shooting the snake or decapitating it with a machete.

This python is not native to North America and has no natural predator in the Everglades. Officials suspect the first of these Southeast Asian snakes to reach the Florida wild were pets that owners released after reaching an unmanageable size. Estimates of how many live in the Everglades range from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.

"These snakes don't belong in the Everglades," Nelson said in a Wednesday press release. "They're causing real problems in one of Florida's greatest treasures."

He will join the state's fish and wildlife conservation commissioner on an Everglades hunt for the reptiles. The senator is among the almost 800 people who registered to participate in the hunt, his office said, and will be accompanied by snake experts and handlers.

He introduced the legislation which led to the 2012 federal ban on importing and trading this species and three others.

His office said in post on his website at the time of the ban that "a small-yet-powerful lobby of reptile keepers stalled the legislation - although Nelson did get colleagues' attention when he unrolled the skin of a 17-footer killed in the Everglades during a July 2009 congressional hearing. It was that same month that a 2-year-old Central Florida girl was killed in Sumter County by an 8 1/2-foot-long albino Burmese python – a family pet."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declared the four species "injurious" and banned transporting them.

Burmese pythons have been documented consuming the likes of a whole 70-pound deer and a six-foot long alligator.

Nelson has called for a "special hunt" for the snakes before. In 2009, he "asked the nation's federal lands czar to allow deputized agents and volunteers into the national park this winter to kill as many of the menacing snakes as possible," his office said at the time.

The month-long contest ends on February 10. Eleven of the snakes were harvested in the first two days of the contest, the state said.


Filed under: Bill Nelson
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    @Fair is Fair

    The eyes are the gateway into a man's soul.
    =================================================================================================== I tried to find the source of that quote with limited success. It appears to cross many cultures and religions. It has a Mid-Eastern feel...

    January 17, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. George

    This is what a Senator is getting paid for? Aren't there better things for the US Senate to be doing than hunting snakes?

    January 17, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. cpc65

    Snakes hunting snakes. I don't know who to root for. The one not is a suite I guess.

    January 17, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Rob

    Liberals saying "doesn't he have better things to do" while I'm sure Barack is out playing his 1000th round of golf since elected.

    January 17, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Dan Silagi

    Snakes are like communists; the only good one is a dead one.

    January 17, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Terrible picture. Kind of looks like a Disneyesque snake doesn't he.

    January 17, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Did CNN opt for that photo of Nelson because he looks like a snake in that photo?

    January 17, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Jeff

    @ODA155, just what are the "qualifications" to hunt pythons?

    January 17, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. dongp71

    There is no way these hunts will do anything to get rid of a very dangerous snake. The Everglades is simple too vast. Just wait until one crawls out of the glades, and kills a child in someones back yard. Why anyone wants one of these creatures, is beyond me.

    January 17, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    What do you expect this senator to do??? He is sick and tired of GOP nonsense, so he is hunting snakes to protect humanity from snake bites. Good job. Don't return to DC.

    January 17, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  11. Baalzabarber

    whats the bet he mysteriously wins the $2,500 prize?

    January 17, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. Sue

    I understand the need to control these invasive snakes that are killing native species. But I think it is a sick mind that enjoys sport hunting, and the killing of these beautiful snakes. I would hope that those who must kill these creatures would do it with a sad heart, but its just another killing party to these good old boys.

    January 17, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  13. Pete

    Maybe Sen.Nelson can run the republican snakes out of both houses because polls show they're really not relevant anymore just whinners crying wolf and nobody seems to be listening are they!!

    January 17, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. C.J.

    Even though i know they prefer cobras, instead of hunting dogs, they should bring teams of honey badgers.

    January 17, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Florida Sen. Bill Nelson would look good in a snake skin suit .

    He would look great back in DC.

    January 17, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  16. mrl

    It takes a snake to find one...

    January 17, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  17. Squigman

    How ironic. One snake hunts another. Just like in the wild, but the snake with legs seems to always win.

    January 17, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
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