News Releases

FWC creates special season for capture and removal of reptiles of concern

News Release

Monday, February 22, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459; Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering a special chance for hunters to capture and remove reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Everglades. From March 8 to April 17, those with a hunting license and a $26 management area permit may take reptiles of concern (Indian python, reticulated python, northern and southern African rock python, amethystine or scrub python, green anaconda and Nile monitor lizard) on Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land and Rotenberger wildlife management areas (WMAs).

Hunters may also take reptiles of concern during the small-game season on those WMAs, which extends through March 7.

The specially created season, established by executive order, follows the close of small game season on the three WMAs, and continues during a period when the nonnative snakes are likely to be encountered.  During cooler months, cold-blooded reptiles sun themselves on levees, canal banks and roadways to warm up.  This makes them easier to spot, capture and remove.

"We are once again engaging our stakeholders, in this case, the hunting community, to help us reduce the number of reptiles of concern in the Everglades," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.  "Our hunters are on the front lines, and we hope, by tapping into their knowledge of the Everglades, we can make significant progress in this effort."

On Monday, Feb. 22, a large group of hunters will receive training on how to identify, stalk, capture and remove reptiles of concern.  The FWC and experts from the reptile industry will provide the training, which includes lessons in biology and behavior.  A local tanner also will be on hand to explain the value of harvested hides.

"In order to increase the numbers of reptiles of concern taken, we believe it is important to give the hunting community the tools for success, and that means the knowledge they need to apply their skills," Barreto said.

Representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Big Cypress National Preserve, South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers are scheduled to attend the event.

Reptiles of concern may be taken by all legal methods (including shotguns, rimfire rifles and pistols) used in the taking of game animals and taking alligators on the water; however, the use of centerfire rifles is prohibited.  Reptiles of concern may not be taken out of the wildlife management areas alive and must be reported to the FWC within 36 hours by calling, toll-free, 866-392-4286, or by completing the online form via MyFWC.com/ROC.



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