Indian Tribesmen Recruited To Catch Pythons In Florida
At a time when it seems pythons might really be taking over the Everglades, Florida has turned to recruiting Irula tribesmen to catch pythons. Good news is that it’s working.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the tribesmen and their dogs are just one of two plans to remove any nonnative pythons out of South Florida.
The Irula were recruited for their status as being world-renowned snake catchers from India. The FWC said in their first eight days they caught and removed 13 snakes.
“Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach people in Florida some of these skills,” said Kristen Sommers, section leader of the FWC’s Wildlife Impact Management Section, said in a statement released on the FWC website. “We are working with our partners to improve our ability to find and capture pythons in the wild. These projects are two of several new efforts focused on the removal of these snakes.”
Step two in their plan is to use detector dogs, specially trained by Auburn University College of Veterinary Science, to sniff out the snakes. The dogs use profiles of pythons to help target search areas.
“Dogs are helping to identify areas where pythons are hiding, paving the way for human searchers to target that area for removal,” said UF/IFAS researcher, Christina Romagosa, in a statement released on the FWC website.
The two work hand in hand as the tribesmen are also helping biologists, University of Florida and Irula tribesmen with their studies by locating areas where pythons are hiding in environmentally sensitive ares.
University of Florida wildlife biologist Frank Mazzotti and his team have been working closely with the Irula tribe. On Jan. 17, tribesmen, Florida representatives, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey cooperates were able to remove four Burmese pythons from the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
“It is outstanding that they have been able to remove pythons from Key Largo,” said Mazzotti in a statement released on the FWC website. “And to get four pythons, including a 16-foot female, is just incredible.”
To increase the success in the tribesmen’s captures, Florida residents are urged to report and sightings or cases of pythons to the Exotic Species Reporting Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681), online at IveGot1.org or on the free “IveGot1” smartphone app.