Ethical Hunter

Pythons a Threat to Deer Hunting? Updated

Updated: Think pythons can’t kill an adult whitetail? Check out THIS exclusive gallery provided by Everglades biologist Skip Snow.

Also, I contacted noted herpetoligst (snake and amphibian scientist) Gary Casper, to get his take on the possibility of Burmese pythons having an actual detrimental effect on large mammal populations.

Casper said that if python numbers are exploding, it’s possible they could have real impacts on mammal populations, and be pretty effective at finding newborn fawns. 

“When they can, they eat a lot and grow fast,” Casper said. “I have no reason to doubt Dorcas’s conclusions, but haven’t really studied the issue or looked for corroborating evidence.”

Casper said most of these invasive species increase rapidly after an initial long period of low numbers, then explode with very negative impacts on everything around them, then crash and come to some sort of equilibrium. 

“So we may be seeing an early phase, and it’s already too late to do anything about it,” Casper said. “Watch and learn.”

Are pythons wiping out Everglades deer? They just might be. Could they cause a major population decline across the South? It’s possible according to some researchers.

Burmese pythons  | Whitetail Deer HuntingThe newswires were abuzz yesterday with an NPR story about invasive Burmese pythons exacting a heavy toll on Everglades’ wildlife populations. If you’re a deer hunter, you should take note of this situation, because according to the lead researchers, raccoons, rabbits and opossums aren’t the only Florida mammals in serious danger.

The story quotes Davidson College biologist Michael Dorcas in saying that his wildlife surveys have shown a 94 percent decrease in white-tailed deer observation, in addition to a 99.3 percent decrease in raccoons, 98.9 percent in opossums and 87.5 percent in bobcats.

Now, to be fair, the article points out that Dorcas’ numbers are based solely on road counts, and do not indicate a comprehensive census. Yet road surveys are an accepted scientific method of tracking population trends. Plus, researchers points to several documented cases of white-tailed deer predation by pythons. So although the study numbers might be slightly anecdotal, the trend certainly seems real.

python eats deer  | Whitetail Deer Hunting

In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 photo provided by the National Park Service, Everglades National Park wildlife biologists Mark Parry, left, and Skip Snow perform a necropsy on a Burmese Python that was captured and killed in Everglades National Park, Fla. The 15.65-foot-long Python had recently consumed a 76-lb. adult female deer. The reptile was one of the largest ever found in South Florida. (Courtesy Laurie Oberholtzer/National Park Service)

Even more worrisome for hunters could be the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the pythons a threat for a much larger area. According to the Service’s research, pythons could live almost anywhere in the Southern U.S.

Many hunters never expected wild hog populations to harm deer hunting in their neck of the woods. Now, that seems to be the case in many areas. Could pythons be the next invader to hurt deer hunting in the South?

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Pythons a Threat to Deer Hunting? Updated

  1. Silver49

    These pythons are non-native and are devastating the fauna in Florida, and will upset the ecological balance. They should be ruthlessly eradicated by a pro-active plan. Sooner or later a child will become a victim, so the program to get rid of these snakes needs to start now, and perhaps it’s already too late? Anyone having these snakes should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law. These reptiles are not pets, but predators.

    1. Rob P

      The truth. This is only a regional problem,these pythons have been in the Everglades for twenty years This is the result of a breeding facility being destroyed in a hurricane, not from irresponsible pet owners releasing pet snakes. Not to say that has never happened, but it carries very heavy fines for doing so. All pet Pythons in Florida have to be micro chipped. This all hype started by HSUS, The Nature Conservancy, and The Defenders Of Wildlife. The truth is that in the wild these snakes can not survive anywhere in the United States, other than the Florida Everglades. The groups listed are also against, any non native pets, which includes most if not all dogs, cats, birds, and the list goes on. The groups listed are also against hunting any animal. So before you go jumping on the band wagon to ban pets, think about it, yours might be next. It could also be your right to hunt or fish. Something to think about !

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