Scaly Squatters

Scaly Squatters: The Need to Evict the Burmese Python From Florida

In a previous blog post, we discussed the legal framework surrounding House Bill 621 (HB 621) and the rights of Florida landlords regarding unwanted occupants known as “squatters.” However, Florida faces another type of unwelcome squatter with devastating consequences for the state’s ecosystem: the Burmese python. And with the Florida Python Challenge starting in August, what better time than now to raise awareness of the issue?

These large, non-venomous constrictors, native to Southeast Asia, have established a robust breeding population within Florida, particularly in the Everglades. Their presence disrupts the delicate ecological balance, posing a significant threat to native fauna. Unlike the human squatters discussed in HB 621, Burmese pythons are silent invaders, slithering through the undergrowth and silently decimating populations of mammals, birds, and other reptiles.

Putting a Legislative “Squeeze” on These Constrictors

Florida recognizes the Burmese python as a “Prohibited species” under Florida Administrative Code 68-5. This classification effectively bans ownership, breeding, or importation of these snakes without a specific permit designated for research or educational purposes. It reflects a clear legislative intent to curb the proliferation of these apex predators within the state of Florida.

Evicting Scaly Squatters on Private Property

The legal framework extends beyond ownership restrictions. Recognizing the threat pythons pose to private property, Florida law empowers landowners to take action. Landowners have the legal right to remove and humanely euthanize Burmese pythons found on their property at any time, without a permit. This provision underscores the state’s recognition of the potential harm these invasive snakes can inflict.

A Collaborative Approach on Public Lands

While private landowners have the authority for python removal, the issue transcends individual properties. Executive Order 23-16 established designated Commission-managed lands where python removal is permitted year-round, without a permit. This collaborative approach facilitates a broader effort to control the python population on public lands, supplementing the actions taken by private landowners.

Responsible Removal

While the legal framework empowers action, responsible removal remains paramount. Burmese pythons are powerful constrictors, and their removal can be dangerous for the inexperienced. Just as I usually warn that my blog posts are not intended to be legal advice – this blog post is not intended to suggest that you go python hunting. Just as you should always hire a lawyer for your legal matters, you should always engage a professional for eradicating 19-foot, 125-pound killing machines. Engaging qualified professionals ensures not only the safety of individuals but also the humane treatment of the snakes themselves. Trained personnel possess the knowledge and experience to safely capture and remove these reptiles, minimizing harm to the environment.

Enter the Python Cowboy: A Modern Day Herpetological Hero

One such individual making a significant impact on the fight against Burmese pythons is Trapper Mike, a/k/a Python Cowboy on Youtube. This channel chronicles the efforts of a skilled individual (Trapper Mike) who, often alongside specially trained dogs, actively tracks and removes Burmese pythons from the Florida Everglades. In a recent episode we see that one of Mike’s dogs, Otto, has learned to track Burmese python nests, which allows him to really put a dent in the population of this invasive species. Python Cowboy’s channel not only showcases the removal process but also highlights the ecological importance of controlling these invasive predators.

A United Effort for a Thriving Ecosystem

The Burmese python’s presence in Florida presents a complex ecological challenge. However, through a comprehensive approach that includes public awareness, responsible removal efforts, and continued advocacy, we can mitigate the ecological damage these invasive predators inflict. By working together, we can ensure Florida’s unique ecosystems continue to thrive for generations to come.

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