Time to bring in the big guns

A new initiative in the Florida Everglades will let hunters use shotguns to kill pythons.

Pythons have become an increasingly big problem in the Everglades as the years pass. Past efforts have had success but they haven’t done enough to stop the invasive reptile from wreaking havoc.

Smaller mammal populations have been decimated by the non-native species over the years. They’re even known to feed on larger native species like alligators, deer, and birds.

Following years of resistance by the national park to keep hunting prohibited, the national park is ready to let hunters help. Applications will be available for specially trained hunters to use shotguns to kill pythons.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve realized that this is a significant problem that requires us to be open-minded and flexible in the way that we approach it,” said Pedro Ramos, the superintendent of Everglades National Park.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had previously unsuccessful in their attempts to get state-authorized python hunters inside the park.

The park will allow firearms, but they only plan to allow the use of shotguns at this time.

An end to the problem?

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is even interested in “finding ways to invite citizens that want to be part of the solution to come into the park, partner with us and help us tackle the problem,” according to Ramos.

Hunting in the Everglades won’t extend past getting rid of the problem species. Hunters can come into the park and kill pythons with shotguns, but it won’t extend past that.

“It’s important to note that this is not a hunt that we’re introducing in Everglades National Park,” Ramos continued. “We’re inviting people that are interested in helping us tackle this problem come into the park and help us remove as many of these animals as we can out of the landscape.”

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