The Conservancy of Southwest Florida in partnership with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida reports the success of expanding its sentinel snake program targeting invasive Burmese pythons that are devastating native species across the Greater Everglades. Through the collaboration, an additional 10 adult male “scout snakes” were captured and implanted with radio-transmitters to lead biologists to reproductively active female pythons across multiple breeding seasons.
Through the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida “Conserve Wildlife” license tag grants, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s ground-breaking research and removal program was expanded by 40 square miles into Picayune Strand State Forest, a critical Wildlife Management Area with an active Everglades restoration project. The grant not only expanded the Conservancy’s geographical footprint, it also added 10 new “scout snakes” to a roster of 30. Male scout snakes are effective at locating reproductive females within areas where they would otherwise remain undetectable.
“We were thrilled to fund such an innovative approach to combating invasives,” said Andrew Walker, Foundation President & CEO. “The Conservancy is using science and speed to remove one of the biggest threats to wild Florida. We look forward to partnering with them again to advance this work.”
Three biologists removed 192 adult pythons weighing approximately 7,800 pounds, including 105 female pythons containing over 4,000 developing eggs, over two breeding seasons.
“The massive size of the female pythons located in the project expansion area indicates that there was limited removal effort placed on these invasive snakes in an ecologically critical area,” said Ian Bartoszek, environmental science project manager for Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “It is mission critical to continue to apply pressure on the existing python population as these animals have had over a 20-year head start expanding their population throughout the bio-region.”
For more information about the Conservancy’s python research and removal project, visit https://conservancy.org/?s=Pythons. This fall, the opening of the new John & Carol Walter Discovery Wing at the Dalton Discovery Center will feature an Invasive Species Gallery that will include information for the public about the impact of invasive pythons in the Everglades.
About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 56-year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land, wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.
About the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida
The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other public and private partners to conserve Florida’s native animals and plants and the lands and waters they need to survive. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has raised and donated $50 million to conservation and outdoor recreation and education. More information can be found at wildlifeflorida.org.