Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Invasive species weathered Florida freeze

A Burmese python, courtesy of Mariluna
via Wikimedia Commons.
Published: Feb. 8, 2011 at 12:51 PM

MIAMI, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Officials in Florida say invasive species, hit hard by freezing conditions a year ago, have bounced back, causing headaches for those trying to deal with them.

A killer freeze took a toll on the exotic reptiles, fish and plants in the wilds of South Florida last year, but field studies have shown that while they may have been down, they were not out, and many are on a speedy road to recovery, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Chief among those is the most infamous of the bunch, the Burmese python.

Wildlife managers say the record cold last January appears to have had little effect, and they are now routinely pulling snakes off canal levees, including a 13 1/2 foot male python in west Miami-Dade county.

"Right now, the numbers aren't all that different," Everglades National Park biologist Skip Snow says. "We're finding them in the same places we've been finding them."

Wildlife officials and biologists have long considered cold weather the best hope for controlling the spread of exotic species.

Everglades biological resources chief David Hallac said he had expected a sharp drop in captured snakes because of the extreme cold, but the total for all of 2010 was only 10 percent below that of 2009.

"That actually shocked me," Hallac said. "We couldn't believe how many snakes were coming in. At a minimum, I was thinking maybe a 50 percent drop."


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