The Washington Post / AP
Wildlife managers in Everglades National Park typically spend hours trying to catch nonnative Burmese pythons that have invaded the swamp. On Monday, they set one free.Using a radio transmitter implanted in the 10-foot snake, biologists hope to track its movements and find other snakes for removal.
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia but have been appearing in large numbers throughout the park as pet owners find them too large to maintain at home and illegally set them free. The snakes can grow up to 20 feet long and live 25 years. "These snakes are mating out there in the wild," said Nestor Yglesias, a spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District, which is working with the park and several other agencies on the radio transmitter project to help eradicate the snakes from the Everglades.
In 2003, biologists removed 23 pythons from the park. In 2005, they removed 95 snakes. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5,968 Burmese pythons have been imported as pets through the Port of Miami in the last three years, alone, Yglesias said. It's a problem that gets very little attention and money, said Skip Snow, a park wildlife biologist. He said park officials are seeking additional funds from the federal government to help eradicate the snake.