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A biological field station will soon be built in Sarasota county thanks to a partnership between Sarasota County, New College of Florida, University of Florida, and the Economic Development Corporation. News and information on the progress of Base Camp Sarasota will be available on this website. Check back often for updates. Contact us with any questions.
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From the Miami Herald:
The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Friday, July 10:
As a Senate hearing so aptly pointed out Wednesday, the United States needs to take control of the exotic species that have invaded every region of the country. The pest du jour at the hearing was the Burmese python, which Sen. Bill Nelson wants banned from importing and pet store inventories.
In truth there are hundreds of invasive creatures threatening our native species – everything from the zebra snails that plug up power-plant intake pipes in the Great Lakes to the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a bacteria-carrying insect that has caused nearly $40 million in losses in California’s wine country.
In all, say scientists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, nonnative species – plant and animal – cost the country $100 billion a year.
Nelson is right: The pythons should be banned. They threaten not just other animals but also humans. Unfurling a 17-foot-long skin of a snake caught in Everglades National Park, Sen. Nelson more than made his point about their danger.
A tragic reminder of just how dangerous: the pet python that escaped its terrarium and strangled 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare in Sumter County this month.
The pythons, which often start out here as pets that are freed or escape captivity, have proliferated in Everglades park. Biologists estimate that 150,000 of them now inhabit it. That’s a very scary number.
Still, Nelson’s bill to ban the snakes has run into opposition from hobbyists, breeders and the pet trade. Their argument – that the majority of imported pythons don’t pose a threat – rings hollow. It only took two mating pythons to begin a major snake infestation in the Everglades.
From the Herald-Tribune:
There could be more than 2,000 Burmese pythons ranging largely across south Sarasota County within three years unless steps are taken to control the growth of the huge snakes, says a New College of Florida professor.
Suggestions, though, that this latest scourge of Mother Nature could harm tourism may be a stretch. After all, this is a state known for alligator and shark attacks — not to mention hurricanes, mosquitoes and love bugs — and the tourists still come.
The predicted explosion in the local python population is being made by Meg Lowman, director of environmental initiatives at New College. Lowman ranked pythons as a bigger issue, at least in the near term, than climate change in a report to the county. She and New College are in the final year of a five-year, $250,000 contract to advise the county on science issues.
New College of Florida students spent an afternoon tramping through the tall grass and undergrowth of Red Bug Slough Preserve on Wednesday, trying to figure out the best way to flush out monitor lizards and Burmese pythons.
Public sightings of invasive reptiles have increased recently. Meg Lowman, director of environmental initiatives at the school, says the creatures are spreading into the northern half of the county after being seen for several years around Englewood and Venice.