The Everglades National Park in southern Florida is facing all sorts of different challenges at the moment. The state’s many highways and freeways are causing major problems for the park’s irrigation system, impeding dozens of species’ ability to survive. Not only that, but conservationists and wildlife experts are noticing that non-native animals are causing drastic changes to the ecological makeup of the park. Here are just some of the biggest animal shakeups happening right now in the Everglades.
The Everglades have a snake problem. There are tens of thousands of massive pythons in this legendary national park. The problem is that they are quickly becoming the dominant predator, killing and eating all different kinds of animals indiscriminately. These beefy serpents are sucking up precious resources from some of the park’s other predators, including alligators and panthers, forcing them to travel greater distances to find a meal.
Pythons are also killing off some of the most critically endangered species in the Everglades, such as the Wood Stork, the Key Largo Cotton Mouse, and the Piping Plover. Park rangers have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and cut down the python population. But hunting and killing pythons is easier said than done. Not to mention that one female python can lay up to 100 eggs. For now, the odds are in the pythons’ favor.
The 17-Foot Trophy
This video shows a massive 17-foot long python captured and killed in one of the park’s many picnic areas. Officials from the park decided to turn their war against the pythons into a contest for the public. $1,500 goes to the person who kills the most pythons, while $1000 dollars goes to the person that kills the longest python. Talk about a challenge!
Invading African Jewelfish
The omnipresent African Jewelfish is another possible cause for concern throughout the Everglades. These tiny freshwater fish are also not native to the park and were introduced in the mid-1960s. Conservationists were alarmed when they realized that the African Jewelfish has virtually taken over the park’s lowland marshes, hogging valuable real estate and precious food from other species of freshwater fish.
Although researchers have yet to find a smoking gun when it comes to the negative effects that the African Jewelfish is having on local ecosystems, it remains a hot topic of investigation. History tells us that when a nonnative species of fish dominates a local ecosystem, native species are expected to suffer the most. And, the African Jewelfish isn’t completely harmless. They’ve been known to eat other species, including natives, as well as bite off the tails of other fish, eventually leading to their death. It just goes to show you, don’t mess with the African Jewelfish.
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