Senator to join python hunt
January 16th, 2013
06:20 PM ET
1 year 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. joe

    Just shows how NRA will stoop to anything to put fear in people-

    January 17, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. Rosslaw

    Shouild be good practice to catch and decapitate snakes for when he returns to DC.

    January 17, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Daedalus

    Is it too much to hope that the pythons strangle him?

    January 17, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Moose

    Is this guy creepy looking or what ???

    January 17, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. much thunder.little rain

    .from one old snake in the grass ...nelson should have no problems getting snakes...

    January 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Slow news day.

    January 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Joi Gibson

    Go get 'em Senator Nelson. My skin is crawling just thinking about those monstrosities. We also ended up with an invasion of inguanas because knuckleheads thought they were oh cute when they are small but when they are fully grown, not so much, so people let them go. Honestly, folks just have no common sense anymore.

    January 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Expat American

    16ft – Yikes. An acquaintance of mine residing in FL once found a 9ft snake in her swimming pool (excellent swimmers apparently). Pet control removed it without having to kill it though.

    January 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. mpouxesas

    what's wrong with this senator's eyes??? too much python hunting?

    January 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. plain&simple

    Take your assault weapons ,go out in the swamps and have a good time.

    January 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Wake up People!

    If he's searching for pythons, there is no need to go to the Everglades, he simply needs to go to work. Some of the biggest snakes are in Congress. Pythons, Anacondas, etc.

    January 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Lee

    Its Wacking Day. And this time, Lisa and Barry White will not save the snakes!!

    January 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. CageyB

    Works for me! Since I consider the only GOOD Snake, is a DEAD Snake, I hope they harvest a boatload of "Good Snakes!"

    January 17, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  14. SnakeOil

    Let's send congress down to the hunt as well and root for the pythons.

    January 17, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Frederick1337

    Killing the snakes is not a reputable engagement. He should be working to transport them back to their native habitat.

    January 17, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Expat American

    The only snakes in Washington have an affinity for funny hats and 'Tea'.

    January 17, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. Steven Colo

    11 snakes in the first two days. Estimates vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

    Those numbers don't compare well.

    January 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Malory Archer

    It's really sad that it's come to this, but this is what happens when irresponsible people let loose their cute "little" pets when they become too big to handle. A little girl was killed by her parents' "pet" here in the Tampa Bay area just two years ago. Animal control took a beautiful 6 foot yellow one from the canal not 20 feet from my home last year before the otters could rip it to shreds like they did to the baby gator someone dumped in there a few years ago. While I'm glad the snake is gone (for the sake of my 4 year-old grandson who likes to walk the dogs with us) it's not the animals' fault but they end up paying the price for human ignorance.

    January 17, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Jerry

    Expat American
    The only snakes in Washington have an affinity for funny hats and 'Tea'.
    ________________________________________________________

    The only snakes in Washington are those that follow Obamalooney misguided/clueless policies and "Bend Forward" to his every whim. (Nowadays, even without Vaseline!)

    January 17, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. Malory Archer

    Frederick1337

    Killing the snakes is not a reputable engagement. He should be working to transport them back to their native habitat.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Their native habitat doesn't want them back as they already have all their ecosystem can handle.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Steven Colo

    11 snakes in the first two days. Estimates vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

    Those numbers don't compare well.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The everglades & state of Florida are huge. Eleven in the first 2 days is a decent start.

    January 17, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. dkruze

    If they're so common why were there only 11 caught in 2 days?

    January 17, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Margaret

    At least this is a logical reason to own a gun, those pythons are dangerous and hunting them makes sense.

    January 17, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. stewart

    can it be a senator actually doing something besides blowing hot air

    January 17, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. hypocracy a la Nelson

    If Sen. Nelson is tempted to shoot from inside his SUV, he should make sure all his staff are out of the way first.

    Also, it's interesting that these snakes are deemed hazardous after one killed a little girl. A bill was drafted to ban import of these snakes and similar species. Yet when guns are used to commit thousands of crimes and shoot up kids, Sen. Nelson will fight tooth and nail to make sure no restrictions or background checks are implemented for fear of encroaching on people's right to possess these tools of destruction. Hypocracy much?

    January 17, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. Me

    Doesn't the Senator has better thing to do for example coming up with a solution to fiscal debt ceiling. Leave the python hunting to the professional

    January 17, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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