If you need any more proof of how widespread the python problem is in the Everglades, consider this story filed today by Tampa Bay Times environmental writer Craig Pittman:
Pythons slither all over the southern end of Everglades National Park. And because of them, a new study says, a lot of animals that used to be seen in the Everglades are gone —- apparently gobbled up by the invading snakes.(A few years ago, when he was interviewed by CNN about the Burmese python problem in the Everglades, wildlife expert Joe Wasilewski said, "They're eating basically everything in sight.")
In a report published Monday, a team of scientists said they found that between 2003 and 2011, the areas where pythons had proliferated saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons, a 98 percent drop in opossums, a 94 percent drop in white-tailed deer and an 87 percent falloff for bobcats. And that's not the worst of it.
"We observed no rabbits or foxes," the report noted.
The bottom line: "In areas where pythons have been established the longest ..., mammal populations appear to have been severely reduced."
Study co-author Robert Reed, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the disappearance of rabbits raised serious questions about how widespread the pythons are.
"Because they breed like — well, like rabbits — they should be able to bounce back pretty well," from facing a new predator like pythons, Reed said. "The fact that they've been knocked back so far is pretty alarming."
Read all of Pittman's story by clicking here.
Read the complete text of the study (in PDF form), on the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by clicking here.