People with a notion on how to protect the Florida Keys from invasive Burmese pythons can meet with state wildlife experts Monday in Key Largo.
Staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Everglades National Park hold an open workshop on the worrisome spread of the large constrictor snakes. The session starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, at mile marker 102 bayside.
Burmese pythons “currently are found primarily in and around the Everglades, where they represent a serious threat to native wildlife,” an FWC spokesman said.
The Key Largo session is the first among seven workshops being held statewide on a “python management plan to identify goals and strategies for land managers to help control invasive Burmese pythons.”
A number of pythons have been captured and euthanized in the Keys, mostly on North Key Largo conservation land and other areas of the Upper Keys. Expert snake trackers from India and trained python-sniffing dogs have been used locally in efforts to reduce the python population.
“Over the past 20 years, Burmese pythons have spread from being a localized problem to a larger landscape problem across state, federal and private lands in South Florida,” said Sarah Funck, head of the FWC Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Program. “We want to work with our partners, land managers and members of the public to identify options to control and remove this invasive species.”
People attending the workshops will learn what steps are currently being taken to control Burmese pythons in Florida and can make suggestions.
Pythons generally are not considered a mortal menace to people but have been suspected of causing a steep decline in the number of mammals in South Florida wild areas. In the Keys, they could pose a threat to several protected species.
A 5:30 p.m. Tuesday workshop also will be held in the Homestead Extension Office, 18710 SW 288th St.
Discussion of a possible limited harvest on Goliath grouper has been pushed back to February’s meeting of state fishery managers.
FWC commissioners were scheduled to be briefed at a December meeting in Gainesville on statewide comments taken at Goliath grouper workshops. Three of those workshops were held in the Keys.
That Goliath grouper topic now has been pushed back to a Feb. 7-8 meeting in Tallahassee.
“Due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma, the September commission meeting was canceled,” an FWC information officer said. “As a result, many items were rescheduled and shifted on the December agenda.”