Senator to join python hunt
January 16th, 2013
06:20 PM ET
5 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. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Nelson is a senator who is not afraid to get off of his butt and do something. You won't see that from Marco Rubio. All Rubio does is travel around the country "campaigning" for a presidential run in 2016. Just what the country needs, another republican presidential candidate who is all talk and no real history of work.

    January 16, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Larry L

    This sounds like something reasonable... from Florida? Really? Can we be certain they're not just catching them for a church service?

    January 16, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. Morris Steen

    How is Senator Nelson going to hunt a 16' snake, with a stick? He belongs to that anti-gun crowd in D. C.

    January 16, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. mediafail2012

    The pythons are destroying the wetlands and need to be eradicated. Ban them from being pets in the state and pay $50 a head and $3 per egg turned in.

    January 16, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. Scott

    Electronically tag a few thousand rabbits, and set them free in the Everglades. Allow the rabbits to be eaten by the snakes so that the snakes are now tagged. Then track the tags to find & kill the snakes.

    You're welcome.

    January 16, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. A. Einstein

    The Burmese Python is native to Southeast Asia, where they are endangered due to the poaching trade, right?.

    Hello? Why don't we just import some Burmese poachers to solve the Burmese Python problem?

    Do I have to think of everything? If we don't solve this soon we'll go over the "Python Cliff"

    January 16, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. us_1776

    11 down.

    99,989 to go.

    Estimates are that over 100,000 of these monsters now exist in the Everglades.

    The only way is going to be trapping them out. You can never hunt them all out.


    January 16, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Can I make a suggestion that he use Marco Rubio or Rick Scott as bait? If they aren't available, we know Allen West is looking for something to do.

    January 16, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. Fed UP

    Just what we need, a United States senator and his entourage tramping around in the Everglades looking for illegal snakes. Maybe he should be spending some time looking for illegal immigrants?

    January 16, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. John

    Do the people of the Congress and the Senate ever work, here we have the dept ceiling coming up with a Government shut down may happen. And you have the Republican In Congress going to a retreat that the American people are most likely paying for, than you have Senator out chasing snake. Man I sure would love a job like that when you get pay 174,000 a years and the best health money can buy. And Not do nothing !

    January 16, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  11. rashawnp

    Wait a second, so these pythons are an invasive species that don't even belong there? So I can buy a python skin belt, some boots, and a wallet without remorse? Haha. Seriously, If I knew a business that was online right now selling items from those very pythons, I'd buy!

    January 16, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Almost as fun a golfing !

    January 16, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  13. Andy

    Joke of a senator, propagating a witch-hunt based upon junk science. Sounds like business as usual.

    January 16, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  14. Robert

    Nelson is the menace. You tell me how stopping a family from moving with their pet Burmese Python from Nevada to California is going to solve a problem in Florida. What it did was make people instant criminals and put many breeders who made their living breeding and selling Burms out of business.

    On 80 degree days last weekend, only 11 of these snakes were killed. That should tell you something. There aren't that many of them out there. They should have been basking all over the place. The winters of 2009 and 2010 really cut into the numbers.

    January 17, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. borisjimbo

    Yet the state of Florida will not ban possession of these invasive animals, claiming it's an infringement on the free marketplace. Funny, I wasn't aware there was a free marketplace for items that are considered contraband.

    January 17, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  16. Lucifer

    Wow, eleven snakes harvested out of tens of thousands... way to go Florida, you guys are friggin geniuses down there.

    January 17, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  17. Bob

    It starts with the nuts who go out and buy them as pets.

    January 17, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  18. TexMan

    Do you know why a Python will not attack a Senator? .... professional courtesy.

    January 17, 2013 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  19. mithra

    Given the snakelike nature of politicians, isn't this a little like suicide?

    January 17, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  20. Marie MD

    At least he is following through with something he is against. Now that we know you care go back to do your job.

    January 17, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  21. Kentucky Burbon

    Look across the aisle and you'll find Plenty of snakes

    January 17, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  22. rh

    Considering that shooting doves eating feed corn on the ground is considered hunting in Florida and other parts of the South, I think killing snakes is a step forward.

    January 17, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  23. Steve, New York City

    How many brainless people in South Florida can we thank, for buying exotic pets and then just setting them free? Snakes are the big problem, but what about Gambian rats in the Florida keys? South Florida is a poster child of de-regulation getting out of control.

    January 17, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. beevee

    May be we could send the NRA leadership on this trip. They could use the assault rifles that they like so much to hunt down the pythons in the Everglades

    January 17, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  25. Tony in Maine

    Finally – a good place for NRAers to get their rocks off spraying bullets from an AR-15.

    January 17, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
1 2 3 4