A group of seven U.S. representatives from Florida penned a letter to President Obama last week, asking him for help with the state’s invasive python problem.
The letter, which is dated Nov. 22, requests that the Office of Management and Budget be directed to release a long-standing proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would list nine species of large constrictor snakes as prohibited “injurious species” under the Lacey Act.
“The nine snakes we are seeking to have listed are the Burmese python, northern African python, southern African python, reticulated python, green anaconda, yellow anaconda, Beni or Bolivian python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, and boa constrictor,” write the reps. “Time is of the essence and this rule needs to be finalized immediately.”
South Florida has been invaded by non-native species of snakes for the past several years, and is unable to fully combat the problem due to a lack of resources. Experts estimate that there are anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 pythons now in the Everglades area — and are likely there due to pet owners who have set them free. Pythons are fairly easy (and inexpensive) to acquire, but can grow to more than 20 feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds.
Earlier this month, work crews in Miami-Dade County discovered a 16-foot Burmese python in the process of ingesting a 76-pound adult deer. An infamous incident in which a python in the Everglades attempted to swallow an adult alligator was captured on film by National Geographic in 2006.
Though Florida was initially wrestling with a Burmese-specific problem, recent evidence reveals that other species of pythons (including the African Rock python) are establishing themselves in southern parts of the state.
The letter is signed by Republicans Tom Rooney, David Rivera, Allen West, Richard Nugent and Vern Buchanan and Democrats Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.