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Saturday, February 9, 2013

PYTHONS, DRAGONS AND SNAKES

Just about a month ago I reported on the Great Florida Python Hunt.  The final day is tomorrow, and the good news is that the 150,000 Burmese Pythons are now down to between 5,000 and 10,000.  Does this means they caught  somewhere between 140,000 and 145,000?  Well, no.  They only killed 50.  It's just that the 1567 hunters from 38 states saw so few of them that the new estimate was cut by a factor of 20.  I told you this was a Florida tourism ploy.  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) Vice-Chairman  Ken Wright (to the left), a practicing attorney, was so delighted that he said they plan to do this is again next year.  Oh, the deadline is not until tomorrow night, so maybe they'll get another couple of snakes.  The official announcement at an awards ceremony will be made on Saturday, February 16, a long week away.

Here's what makes the next hunt so, relatively, intriguing.  First, by general consensus, most of the pythons are in the Florida Everglades.  Guess what?  The Indiana Joneses were prohibited from doing their stuff there, for the 1.5 million square mile Everglades National Park is a safe haven for all snakes.  But Park Superintendent Dan Kimball (left) has not yet agreed to this expansion.  This is part of the reason why National Geographic called this adventure a cheap stunt.  Many are concerned about cruelty to slithery monsters.  However, the FFWCC remarked that:

The purpose of the Python Challenge, according to the event's website, "is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem."

So nothing wrong with that, I say.  And the miracle of this all is that there has not been a reported swallowing of a hunter this past month in Florida, nor any serious injuries, nor people getting lost in this effort.

My year of the dragon is also coming to an end tomorrow, when  the most detestable of symbols, the snake, will reign over the Chinese Lunar New Year.  Actually, this is not all true, as the snake is looked upon as a small dragon, and in some parts of China, like Fujian Province, worshipped.  Two cycles ago, though, was the slaughter at Tiananmen Square, while the Great Depression of 1929 occurred in the Year of the Snake.  As this past year was that of the Water Dragon, this coming year will feature the Water Snake:


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