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In January 2010, staff and visiting investigators at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve first began seeing large exotic snakes, primarily Burmese pythons, while conducting field research. Since then, hundreds of large snakes have been captured within the Reserve, clearly indicating these snakes are spreading out from their original point source near Everglades National Park.

Preserving natural habitats and native plants and animals within the boundaries is a priority issue for Reserve staff because these invaders pose a significant threat to native predators now in competition with pythons for food. The Reserve has begun to undertake steps to better understand the effects of this predator in its new environment and prevent further infestation to the fullest extent possible.

The reserve works in partnership with with FWC, the Conservancy of SW Florida, visiting scientists and others to address this issue.

In September, 2012, land managers in southwest Florida first convened at Rookery Bay Reserve in an effort to improve regional python management efforts and mitigate impacts to protected lands in southwest Florida. The half-day workshop included presentations by researchers studying pythons in the Reserve and in Everglades National Park, facilitated discussions to identify knowledge gaps and available resources, and strategic planning sessions for effective communications and prioritization of management issues on a regional basis.

Scientists with the Conservancy of SW Florida are inserting transmitters inside female snakes and releasing them during breeding season, enabling to locate and capture many male snakes attracted by hormones. DNA samples and stomach contents from captured snakes are studied so that more can be learned about what they are eating and how they are faring here.

We can use your help...but not by going out and attempting to capture a Burmese python. That job requires trained personnel, a collecting permit issued by the State of Florida, and other permissions issued by the Reserve.

If you see a large snake that you believe to be a python in the wild (or your backyard), contact the "I've Got 1" hotline at 1-888-IVE-GOT-1 (483-4681).

CLICK HERE to learn about the Reserve's partners in the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA)

CLICK HERE to learn about a visiting scientist researching pythons in the Reserve

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