Burmese Pythons Wanted Dead or Alive

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar considering bounty on massive snakes

Pythons have few fans in Florida these days and now they have a new, powerful enemy - newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

President Obama's choice to defend the nation's parks took an airboat ride Thursday through the Everglades with other Florida political dynamos to tour the ecosystem and toss around ideas on how to stop the python invasion. He was joined in his snake hate by Sen. Bill Nelson, Congressman Kendrick Meek and still-Gov. Charlie Crist

The most promising -- and dangerous -- idea might be a bounty program, which would pay any Floridian who catches one of the massive reptiles, dead or alive. One lobbyist on the airboat trip offered $10,000 or his own money to get the program started right now.

It's a noble idea, if not foolish, because with so many people out of a job in the state, amateur bounty hunters and snake wranglers would probably arrive in force in the swamps of the Everglades tomorrow. Anybody seen Samuel L. Jackson lately?

Before you get any ideas, take a second to put down your swamp boots and that snake wrangler bag. Just because you subscribed to National Geographic or religiously watch Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, doesn't mean you are qualified to capture a 20-foot long, 250-pound monster apex predator.

What makes matters worse for potential snake hunters is in Everglades National Park, where most of the snakes make their home, you can't use a gun.

Luckily, Salazar and Crist told lobbyists and wildlife officials to hold their horses on the bounty idea.

Salazar did commit to something on his airboat ride. He vowed the federal government will match the state dollar-for-dollar on the Everglades restoration project. President Obama has already allocated more than $100 million in stimulus money for Everglades restoration.

No word if the airboat operator or Crist threatened to leave Salazar out in the endless maze of marches if he didn't promise to make the feds pay up, but the hugs and handshakes after the tour seem to suggest otherwise.

As for the python problem, the estimated 150,000 squeezing the life out of animals in the Glades may have finally run into a roadblock - Floridians fear of being squeezed to death and their need for cash.

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