James Call , Tallahasse Democrat Capitol Reporter March 8, 2017 |
Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami-Dade, wants to hunt down foreign reptiles that are wreaking havoc in South Florida. Artiles called reporters to a brief news conference Wednesday to discuss his plan of having the state pay skilled hunters to trap and kill seven different reptiles, two species of fish and any other prohibited species designated by state wildlife officials.
In the past, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has offered prizes and other rewards for hunters tracking down invasive species and lionfish. Studies indicate that pythons from Asia, lizards from South America and other non-native species have destroyed Roseate Spoonbill nests, consumed more than 90-percent of the Everglades’ raccoons and possums and also threaten native alligators.
Standing outside the Senate chamber, Artiles asked why spend billions on saving the Everglades if it will be without any native Florida wildlife?
“We have a major problem in the Everglades with the major predators being pythons and tegu (an Argentine lizard) – a 6-foot python can eat a 5-foot alligator this is what is happening,” said Artiles. “We’re seeing a drop in little furry animals too, possums, raccoons we’re not seeing them in the Everglades because non-native species are decimating our back yard.”
Artiles’ SB 230 is waiting to be scheduled in the Natural Resources Subcommittee. It would spend $600,000 over two years on pilot programs involving hunters rounding up the invasive lizards, snakes, and fish.
Artiles wants to target these critters:
• Burmese or Indian python;
• Reticulated python;
• Southern African python
• Scrub python;
• Green Anaconda
• Nile Monitor
• Any reptile FWC designates
• Red Lionfish