Today I testified at a Senate hearing about the persistent and deadly risk posed by the prevalence of the Burmese python in Florida.
Invasive species like the Burmese python are wreaking havoc in our most treasured environments. Some estimate there are upwards of more than one hundred thousand of these deadly pythons in the Everglades National Park. The crown jewel of our national park system has been transformed into a hunting ground for these predators.
And last week the unthinkable happened.
An eight-foot Burmese python escaped from its container in a home northwest of Orlando. The pet snake bit a two-year-old girl and wrapped itself around her body. By the time the paramedics had arrived, the child had been strangled.
And this is not an isolated case. Over the last ten years, at least 17 people have been the victim of an attack. Seven have died.
It took this tragic event to bring back focus to this problem – and there’s something we can do about it.
I filed a bill in February (S. 373) which would declare pythons as injurious animals and halt the importation and interstate commerce of these deadly snakes.
The state of Florida has been working from its end to get a handle on these snakes. They now require a yearly registration fee, owners must display knowledge of handling and care, and snakes are now micro-chipped – so if one got loose you would have a chance to chase them down. Now it’s time for the federal government to step up.
Senator Bill Nelson