In the last 90 days, Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologists and research partners have removed more than one ton of pythons from Collier County. Among the 43 snakes removed, was the largest male python on record in South Florida, weighing more than 140 pounds and measuring more than 16 feet in length, which was discovered in a rural area of Rookery Bay.
Burmese pythons are cracking the code on the Southwest Florida habitat, learning how to survive and breed locally. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has partnered with scientists and land managers from Denison University, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR), U.S. Geological Survey and Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area to study and address the ecological problem of pythons in Southwest Florida by locating pythons in the wild, working with public and private land owners where the pythons have been discovered, and removing the invasive species.
The good work of Captain Kirkland, a captured male python, is credited for the recent discovery and removal of pythons in Collier County, made possible through the use of radio tagging. Captain Kirkland, a relatively small, nine-foot python, was radio tagged and released to rural parts of Collier County, where he was soon tracked to a large batch of both male and female pythons. Tracking efforts are led in partnership with Dr. Jeffrey Noble of Saint Francis Animal Hospital, responsible for surgically implanting radio tags within captured pythons that are then released into the wild. A total of 15 adult pythons are currently under surveillance by radio tag, leading researchers to more pythons, and enabling the team gain a better understanding of their movement patterns.
“The ecological impact of removing so many adult pythons from a relatively small area of Collier County can only be positive for our native wildlife,” said Ian Bartoszek, biologist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “We need to utilize all tools available and develop additional techniques to capture and remove Burmese pythons in Florida.”
Activities encompassed through the research team’s project includes foot and road surveys to better understand the range of pythons in Southwest Florida; outreach efforts to educate land owners and land managers about pythons; mailings and billboard postings to raise awareness and gain information; removal of pythons across Southwest Florida; necropsies of collected pythons to obtain information about diet and reproductive activity; tracking pythons through radio telemetry to learn ecological habits; using radio-tagged pythons to find untagged pythons; and construction and testing of trapping methods.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and partners hope that ongoing research will help the team create a management strategy based on the extensive data being collected, including density of python population within certain areas, the distance they move and the changes within their range of movement.
To report an invasive species sighting, the public is asked to call 1-888-IVE-GOT1 or report via the “IveGot1” mobile app. For more information, visit www.conservancy.org.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 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.