We know what you’re thinking. “Why ask me? I’m not even Burmese. In fact, I deny ever having been in Myanmar, ever. And it’s generally bad conservation practice to shoot snakes.”
Well, we’re asking you because the snake safari is on, and you can get your Crocodile Hunter freak on with an inexpensive license and a bit of online snake-recognition training. You just have to be willing to go to Florida and kill snakes. Lots of them are good. Big ones are even better. Lots of big ones are the very best. And there’s a prize for the biggest.
The problem came about because of that 5% that doesn’t get the word — in this case, the word that a purring, snuggling cat or a begging, fetching dog make the best pets. There’s always that weirdo out there, the character that has to be a unique and special snowflake and invests pure love in a soulless, legless, slithering, dead-eyed reptile.
The special snowflakes bought their snakes, but when the darling little pythons first proved unwilling to purr, snuggle, beg and fetch, and then grew to oh-crap-where’s-the-baby size, they did what misguided animal lovers frequently do: “they let them go free” (cue 70s Hallmark movie of the week music). Turning Burmese pythons loose in the protein-rich environment of the Everglades turned out to be an environmental cataclysm of Chernonbyl proportions. It tends to grow some big and healthy pythons, at the expense of everything else up to and including Florida panthers and alligators.
Take it away, Fox News:
The Sunshine State is hosting a month-long “Python Challenge” beginning Jan.12 with cash prizes of up to $1,500 for the biggest snakes caught. Wildlife officials urge caution, but beyond the online course and the fee, there are no other requirements to hunt down the Burmese pythons, which can reach nearly 18 feet in length and have devastated much of the southern Florida ecosystem.
“Aside from the obvious goal of reducing the Burmese python population in the Everglades, we also hope to educate the public about Burmese pythons in Florida and how people can help limit the impact of this and other invasive species in Florida,” said Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “We are also using the Challenge to gauge the effectiveness of using an incentive-based model as one tool to address a challenging invasive species management problem.
This is pretty unusual behavior for a state bureaucracy, even an agile Sun Belt one, so let’s see if Fox tells us why. Looks like they do:
The unorthodox approach is evidence of Florida wildlife officials’ desperation as much as their innovation. Since the Southeast Asian species was introduced to the region by irresponsible pet owners, the population of wild pythons has exploded. Experts believe there could be tens of thousands of the giant snakes living in an 8,000-square-kilometer region of southern Florida. The voracious predators have devastated the native species like deer, bobcats and raccoons.
OK, so that explains why the wildlife officials want to take the life out of this particular bit of wild. But have the soulless, dead-eyed serpents no defenders? No, of course they do. (This is America, after all, where nothing is too perverse to have its own lobby).
Enter the Suncoast Herpetological Society, which is not the scientific group it sounds like: it’s the lobby for those weirdos out there, the characters that have to be unique and special snowflakes and invest pure love in a soulless, legless, slithering, dead-eyed reptile.
In other words, the same sociopathic cretins who released these illegal alien eating machines in the first freaking place.
Their arguments run the gamut from denying the problem exists (“greatly exaggerated” and “significant drop in numbers since… 2010″) to concern trolling for the poor taxpayers (they suggest that people will buy pythons and kill them, hoping to win the biggest-dead-nasty-snake prize) to concern trolling for the poor Elmer Fudds hunting these things (“extremely dangerous when provoked.”) In other words, fifty shades of bullshit. (Actual invasive python science here).
So, accepting that St. Patrick had the right of it and the snakes, particularly the invasive species, need to be cast out of the Everglades, we get to the practical part of it. How do you kill a snake? Florida suggests a machete or a gun, and we’re all about guns here, What does the gun need to do? According to Carli Segalson, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Hunters have an ethical obligation to dispatch the snake as humanely as possible.”
So what weapon does that suggest? What caliber? We’re thinking high-velocity, flat-shooting, plenty of muzzle energy, and accurate enough for headshots.
We’re thinking a .357 would be just about right.
Which makes the choice of weapon self-evident: