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Entries in Python (2)

Monday
Feb182013

Biggest Python in Florida Snake Hunt Released Back into the Wild

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(EVERGLADES, Fla.) -- A new prize in the Florida python hunt has been announced, and everybody wins.

The two men who caught the giant Burmese python collected a $1,000 prize. The giant snake was released back into the Everglades. Florida wildlife experts hopefully expect the python -- outfitted with a pair of transmitters -- will show them where to find the thousands of snakes hiding in the wild and lead them to breeding females.

Two other pythons were also implanted with transmitters and sent back into the wild.

"It's breeding time and females attract males and we have three eager young lads sitting out there with radio transmitters on them who can lead us to the breeding female and we can catch her," Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife at the University of Florida who helped organize the challenge, told ABC News.

The Florida Python Challenge ended on this weekend with the roundup of a mere 68 snakes. Officials held the snake hunt because the pythons have multiplied into the thousands in the Everglades and have become a threat to native species.

Mazzotti was not deterred by the number of snakes captured.

"We've never collected so many pythons in such a short period of time. It really is an unprecedented sample," he said. "It provides us with a sort of autopsy of the wildlife. There's going to be recommendations coming out of this that will help us be able to remove more snakes from the wild."

Initially the prize for the longest snake went to a man who brought in a 10-foot-long python, but on Sunday another longest snake prize was given to Blake Russ and Devin Belliston, of Miami who wrangled an 11-foot-long python. The error in measurement, according to Mazzotti, has to do with the difficulty of measuring a live python.

 

Mazzotti worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to design the challenge. The challenge's purpose was to not only remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades, but to also collect data from the snakes that were euthanized, and to track the three which were tagged with transmitters.

Mazzotti said the department weighed the risks of releasing the tagged pythons, but to ensure they can be recaptured, two transmitters were implanted in each snake. If one transmitter were to fail, another one would take its place.

"I absolutely never want to explain to someone that we left a snake out in the wild, so we make sure to put two transmitters in them so that they can be tracked," Mazzotti said.

The tagged pythons help Mazzotti and his team determine the full extent of the invasion both in terms of location and habits.

"Many of the snakes we catch we catch along roads, and we learn where else in the landscape they go. We also learn basic activity patterns. We then use that information to find when the best time to look for them and to remove them is."

Mazzotti plans to recapture the three snakes in April at the end of the breeding season. That's when Mazzotti hopes they'll be led to pregnant female snakes, which can also be captured and prevented from releasing baby pythons into the ecosystem.

Because the pythons are such a large predator, and aren't native to the Everglades, they have a negative effect on the top-down food structure of the ecosystem.

Until the snakes are recaptured, Mazzotti and his team will focus on analyzing the data they collected from the 65 snakes which were euthanized. This data includes dietary and mercury samples.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Florida Couple Found Guilty After Pet Python Strangles Girl

Orange County Corrections Dept(BUSHNELL, Fla.) -- It took the jury less than two hours to find Jaren Hare and her boyfriend Charles Darnel guilty on all charges in the death of Hare's young daughter, who was killed by their pet python.

They were found guilty of third-degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse. Hare's 2-year-old daughter, Shaianna, was killed by the pet Burmese python two years ago when the snake escaped from its enclosure and strangled the girl in her crib. The snake's tank was only equipped with a quilt for a lid.

The jury rejected the defense's argument that this was simply a terrible accident.

After the verdict was read out, Darnell tried to comfort his sobbing girlfriend. The two could face up to 45 years in prison. Darnell will likely face more time than Hare because he has six prior felony convictions. They had been offered a plea deal for 10 years in prison, but turned it down.

Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino showed the jury two photos of Shaianna, one where she was a smiling, happy child and another showing her lifeless body with bite marks on her face. He pointed at the couple and argued to the jury that "the snake is not at fault in this case. It's a wild animal. The responsibility for the death of that child is those defendants right there."

Hare's mother testified for the state, saying she warned her daughter about the dangers of having the snake and even offered to buy it and keep it at her home and in a locked enclosure.

Hare's defense attorney, Ismael Solis, argued that Gypsy, the 8-foot-6 inch snake, had been a family pet for five years and had always been docile. "If you have children around the house and it's a venomous snake and you don't put a secure lid on a venomous snake and it gets out and bits one of the kids, you should be punished. But Gypsy was a gentle snake," Solis said during the trial.

Darnell's attorney argued, "He is not guilty of manslaughter. He is not guilty of murder. He's not guilty of neglecting that child. He is guilty of making a stupid decision and having a stupid pet."

But the jury did not buy it. "We also felt that, as the parents and caregivers, their responsibility was to preclude any chance that there could be an incident of any kind, because a 2-year-old could not protect herself," the foreperson told reporters after the trial.

Outside the courtroom, Shaianna's biological father, Joe Gilkerson, said justice was served and that he was bothered by Hare's lack of emotion throughout the four-day trial. "You got some times (in court) where she's got emotions and then some times where she looked like she could care less," Gilkerson told reporters. "I mean, that was our daughter. How can you have an emotionless face?"

Hare and Darnell are the parents of a daughter who was born about a month after Shaianna was strangled to death. It is not clear who is caring for the girl now.

Sentencing is set for August 24.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio