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Wacking Day
December 7, 2012 12:59 PM   Subscribe

The competition's website lists several ways to kill a python...It suggests shooting the snake in the head with a firearm or decapitating it with a machete. Wildlife officials say the 2013 Python Challenge is not only about killing snakes. "One of things that is very important to us is to educate the public about the Burmese python and how this species is impacting the state of Florida," Segelson said.
posted by 445supermag (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Oh. I thought it was a sequel to... Nevermind.
posted by cthuljew at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or Whacking Day.
posted by asperity at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


A member of the most destructive invasive species in the history of the planet ironically tries to educate other members of his species about the dangers of invasive species by...encouraging them to kill members of another species. "Humanely."
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


The simplest method for defeating python is to repeatedly indent the header.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [34 favorites]


Can't we just introduce some kind of large hungry python-eating predator to the environment instead?
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can't we just introduce some kind of large hungry python-eating predator to the environment instead?

Sorry - I'm pretty busy this week.
posted by Vhanudux at 1:13 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hope they're using tylenol-laced rats as well.
posted by maryr at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2012


Giant Mongooses.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some kind of mongoose/eagle hybrid would be perfect, I think.
posted by elizardbits at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whatever the plan is, it had better be as elegant as the one I heard wherein, at the end, winter comes and the gorillas freeze to death.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Philosopher Dirtbike: “A member of the most destructive invasive species in the history of the planet ironically tries to educate other members of his species about the dangers of invasive species by...encouraging them to kill members of another species. ‘Humanely.’”

I don't think it's really that simple, unfortunately. The Burmese Python should never have been introduced to Florida's ecosystem; we humans were the ones who stupidly introduced it, and now the whole native habitat is under a very real threat. It's kind of our responsibility to deal with this threat.

Maybe you can give me some reasons why I shouldn't trust the Florida Fish and Wildlive Conservation Commission, but everything I know about Florida wildlife (admittedly I'm an amateur, but I've taken an interest in it somewhat) says that what they're doing here is right.
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Florida tackling python problem

Not too many trees to drop out of down there, but you really do have to follow your blocking.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Giant mongeese? What the fuck is wrong with y'all; this is clearly a case for the honey badger!
posted by Mister_A at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Can't we just introduce some kind of large hungry python-eating predator to the environment instead?"

I think that is the rough idea behind this.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


♫ There must be - 50 ways to kill a python... ♫
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A grand prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the person who kills the most pythons, and $1,000 will go to the person who bags the longest one

How much do the pythons win for killing hunters? Because I can't help feeling that with lots of amateur hobbyists running into the swamp to swipe at 15-foot pythons with machetes, that may well be an unintended consequence.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean, it's just like that old nursery school song, about the old woman who swallowed the fly. Realizing her error, she swallowed a spider, clearing up the fly problem toot sweet. She had some sequelae relating to her spider ingestion that she dealt with by swallowing additional fauna. I can't remember all the details, but I believe she achieved a satisfactory outcome.
posted by Mister_A at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oops! Killed a water moccasin! Sorry!
posted by uraniumwilly at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some kind of mongoose/eagle hybrid would be perfect, I think.

A moneagle? An eagoose?
posted by Floydd at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2012


The Burmese Python should never have been introduced to Florida's ecosystem; we humans were the ones who stupidly introduced it, and now the whole native habitat is under a very real threat.

I've always kind of wondered about phrases like "should have never been introduced". There's no should have, or should not have. There's just life. If one species takes over another, that's just how it is (with perhaps an exception to the human species, where we have the intelligence and technology to actually destroy the planet).

But species move from one place to another all the time. Humans traveled all over the world. Animals migrate. Really the whole argument of 'natural' migration is a little strange if you think about it.
posted by Malice at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really the whole argument of 'natural' migration is a little strange if you think about it.
I'm not partial to starlings dominating and taking over 100s of square miles of land, pushing out other species until huge clouds of them become dominant. That's just one example off the top of my head.
posted by uraniumwilly at 1:44 PM on December 7, 2012


wabbit tale
posted by Mister_A at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2012


How much do the pythons win for killing hunters?

I wanna see the pythons setting up cunning traps with six-packs and chaw.
posted by elizardbits at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always kind of wondered about phrases like "should have never been introduced". There's no should have, or should not have. There's just life.

What? That is some misguided, unadulterated nonsense, if I ever read it.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's a human mistake, we should at least try and fix some of them.
posted by Atreides at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


♫ There must be - 50 ways to kill a python... ♫
posted by randomkeystrike


And there are 100 ways to love them.
posted by COBRA! at 1:54 PM on December 7, 2012


Malice: “I've always kind of wondered about phrases like ‘should have never been introduced’. There's no should have, or should not have. There's just life. If one species takes over another, that's just how it is (with perhaps an exception to the human species, where we have the intelligence and technology to actually destroy the planet). But species move from one place to another all the time. Humans traveled all over the world. Animals migrate. Really the whole argument of 'natural' migration is a little strange if you think about it.”

IvoShandor: “What? That is some misguided, unadulterated nonsense, if I ever read it.”

No, it's a good question; by what measure do we humans decide what is best for the natural environment? It can seem pretty daunting, and I can understand wondering whether we should at all.

But I think, in the face of the world as it is, it's our responsibility to try. And I think it's possible; it's even implicit in what Malice says about the exception that the human species could "destroy the planet." There are a couple of ways we could do that; at some point we may figure out a way to actually detonate the planet or something, for instance, and I guess that seems less far-fetched now than it did a hundred years ago. We could also do it by degrees, by decreasing ecological diversity and by setting up circumstances that kill off animals in droves. And I think that's what happening in Florida; as Wikipedia puts it:
A study published in December 2011 established that the number of mid-size mammals observable at evening and night along major roads in Everglades National Park had significantly decreased. The authors measured more than a 99% decrease in the number of raccoons, nearly 99% and 88% decrease for opossums, bobcats (Lynx rufus), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and the authors were unable to observe any rabbits during their period of study. Other mammals, such as rodents, coyotes (Canis latrans), and Florida panthers were observed at a slight increase but still remained infrequent. The study's authors pointed to the Burmese python as responsible for the decreased numbers of mammals: the decreases began occurring about the same time Burmese pythons sightings increased, locations where pythons have been observed for the longest periods of time also shows severe decreases in numbers of mid-size mammals, and in other areas where pythons have been observed more recently, some mammal species numbers are lower than where no pythons have been observed. Raccoons, opossums, rabbits, deer, and bobcats live or feed near water where pythons tend to live, they have been found in digestive tracts of pythons, and as there are no snakes native to the Everglades near the size that Burmese pythons can grow, the study authors stated the mammals "may be naive to predation by large snakes". Everglades National Park is an ecological sanctuary where hunting is illegal; water levels that are often human-controlled, or other environmental factors, have remained unchanged over the past two decades.
Basically, the blunt force of the argument is pretty simple: if thousands of pythons died in Florida tomorrow, millions of animals would be saved.

It's understandable that we humans might, in a detached sense, want to think about whether it might be better to hold off rather than involve ourselves in making decisions about what's best for the environment. I agree that that would be nice. But it's too late. We've already involved ourselves; I would argue that it would probably have been impossible to avoid involving ourselves from the beginning. And since we're involved, it's our responsibility to try to think about what's right and try to do it.
posted by koeselitz at 1:56 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I reckon importing some of them French catfish should do the trick.
posted by pipeski at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


With the exception of IvoShandor's comment, you all make some pretty valid points on the subject. Definitely something to think about further.
posted by Malice at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2012


♫ There must be - 50 ways to kill a python... ♫

Just lop off his head, Jed
Crush him with a rock, Barack
You don't need to be mean, Gene
Just listen to me

Hit him with your truck, Buck
You don't need to discuss much
Grab your machete, Eddy
And he will rest in peace
posted by flarbuse at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


My husband's great grandpa was actually an official rattlesnake hunter. He's gone now, but I wonder if that snake-hunting fever runs in my husband's veins?

**checks with husband.**

Nope. Sorry Florida.
posted by emjaybee at 2:05 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have to admit it's pretty odd that the same recommendations generally apply to zombies as well.
posted by Curious Artificer at 2:06 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, fine, but then what's the plan to curtail the unbridled spread of this usage of the word "impacting?" Preferably an approach with fewer machetes, but if we must....

/reaches down to pick nit from the back of a nearby anaconda
posted by argonauta at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2012


I've always kind of wondered about phrases like "should have never been introduced". There's no should have, or should not have.

I took that to mean "we should have known better". Hell, we did know better, but the people selling Burmese pythons for pets assured us that everything would work out ok.
posted by sneebler at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2012


The Nile crocodile is also listed in Florida's "disposition matrix". They make gators look like pacifists.

It's likely the future non-human inhabitants of the planet will consist solely of kudzu, squirrels, vultures, and cockroaches, but we're trying to put this off as long as possible.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just poach the python.
posted by swift at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2012


Plus the Nile Monitor lizards are keeping the Nutria population under control. See? It's all part of His noodly plan.
posted by sneebler at 2:16 PM on December 7, 2012


While I'm sure this is necessary I am saddened. I once owned a Burmese python named Buffy. When I got her she was about a foot long and a few ounces. I finally had to give her away when she was about 7 feet long and maybe 30 pounds or so. She was scaring the wife.
posted by Splunge at 2:17 PM on December 7, 2012


Well, we may have figured out one problem, at least:

from Mister_A's link: “The history of the rabbit in Australia demonstrates that people can be really stupid. In 1859, a farmer introduced 24 grey rabbits to remind him of home. At the time, the man wrote: 'The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting.' By 1900, the rabbits had reached plague proportions and were causing extreme environmental damage. They ring-barked trees, ate fields to oblivion and caused massive soil erosion by digging burrows.”

from Wikipedia's article on pythons in Florida: “A study published in December 2011 established that the number of mid-size mammals observable at evening and night along major roads in Everglades National Park had significantly decreased... the authors were unable to observe any rabbits during their period of study.”

So there we have it; we'll solve the rabbit problem in Australia by introducing Burmese Pythons.
posted by koeselitz at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2012


Some kind of mongoose/eagle hybrid would be perfect, I think.

A moneagle?


Personally, I wouldn't want to go after a python wearing nothing but a monocle.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:31 PM on December 7, 2012


It's likely the future non-human inhabitants of the planet will consist solely of kudzu, squirrels, vultures, and cockroaches, but we're trying to put this off as long as possible.

Also herpes and craft glitter.
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


What, no sys.exit() joke yet?
posted by uosuaq at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was saving that for the end.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2012


You don't *need* it at the end...
posted by uosuaq at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2012


They'd get more nuts with machetes into the swamps if they changed the name of the competition to Oburmacare.
posted by orme at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Earlier this year, researchers at Virginia Tech University, Davidson College and the U.S. Geological Survey reported that populations of rabbits and foxes have disappeared and numbers of raccoons, opossums and bobcats have dropped as much as 99%."

And what about the animals they preyed on? I assume everything but the rabbits were carnivores. Did they go up/down/stay stable?
posted by asra at 3:37 PM on December 7, 2012


A friend of mine lived in Malaysia on his sailboat [40' trimaran, it sat tall]. He lost his cat, Buster, to a python. He couldn't save him.

Buster was taught how to climb a thick rope from the water that was dangling overboard. This, in case he fell off while under way and could get back onboard. He was fearless

.
So in Buster's memory...don't introduce foreign species and KILL 'em All!
posted by alicesshoe at 3:53 PM on December 7, 2012


A friend of mine lived in Malaysia on his sailboat [40' trimaran, it sat tall]. He lost his cat, Buster, to a python. He couldn't save him.

Buster was taught how to climb a thick rope from the water that was dangling overboard. This, in case he fell off while under way and could get back onboard. He was fearless

.
So in Buster's memory...don't introduce foreign species and KILL 'em All!


Bravo to the python for doing just that. (Cats are consistently the most devastating of all invasive species.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:06 PM on December 7, 2012


You don't need a firearm or a machete. You need a shovel. A common old ordinary shovel. Gives you a bit more distance from the snake than a machete, but the principle is the same. Chop off the head with the shovel (and then, if you're my mother, you frantically chop the rest of it into tiny pieces while shrieking with horror and panic).

The only time I ever had the opportunity to do this, the bloody brown snake was between me and my shovel. Said shovel was later moved inside the back door of the house for easier access.

Or according to outback folklore you grab it by the tail and crack it like a whip, breaking it's neck, but I've never seen that done. And don't really want to.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2012


"Or according to outback folklore you grab it by the tail and crack it like a whip, breaking it's neck, but I've never seen that done."

I think that would be difficult with a full grown python:
Scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the university's campus examined the 164.5-pound, 17.5-foot snake Friday after it was brought there from the Everglades National Park.
posted by 445supermag at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2012


Pythons, that is, which are trashing the local ecosystem.
Pythons, that is, which are trashing the local ecosystem in Florida.

The Great Lakes are also being invaded by non native species of fish [scroll to bottom for the latest scourge! Asian Carp]. It isn't good.


Invasive species decimate local fish and fauna, plants...
Don't disrupt nature.
posted by alicesshoe at 5:53 PM on December 7, 2012


Nature is chaos and disruption. There is no balance.
posted by humanfont at 6:14 PM on December 7, 2012


humanfont: Nature is chaos and disruption. There is no balance.

Nature is occasionally chaos and destruction, but is for the most part it's long-term stability. Otherwise, you'd never see niche adaptions or anything, just a mess of the same generalist species everywhere. You know, kind of like what we're causing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:49 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


malibustacey9999: I think you have the wrong idea of the scale of the Burmese python. I would want a pistol or rifle for them... a machete would be about the only non-projectile weapon I would consider for one. They're rather big.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2012


You should read: The Balance of Nature: Ecology's Enduring Myth. We need to recognize that we are caretakers of a global garden.
posted by humanfont at 7:46 PM on December 7, 2012


I recall finding out this was not a hoax, and then we all said (in a rare moment of fellowship with the toothy reptiles) "." for the gator.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2012


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