Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 10:29 a.m.
In certain times and places in U.S. history, the answer to every political problem was probably "Let's get a bunch of guys with guns together and solve this." Nowadays, this idea seems to be seriously considered only in matters of Middle East diplomacy, but Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is suggesting a giant snake-hunting party in Everglades National Park.
Nelson has hated this slithery alien creatures for a long time, but the last straw came three weeks ago when a pet python killed a toddler. Now he wants to eliminate Burmese pythons by barring their import into the country and then allowing for an organized hunt of them in the Glades.
He wrote a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about his idea:
Dear Secretary Salazar:
As we have discussed, we need to get a grip on pythons invading America's Everglades. Thus, I would offer two things.
First, I appreciate your input on my bill that would ban the import of Burmese pythons. Many of these dangerous snakes are making their way into the Glades because they are being released by their owners. My legislation would classify pythons as an injurious animal and would prohibit their import and interstate trade.
Passage of this bill would put an end to people importing these things. And I hope we never again would have to see what we saw in Florida three weeks ago: a toddler strangled to death by a pet python.
Second, when we visited the Everglades recently, we heard a variety of ideas for capturing or killing many of the estimated 100,000-or-more pythons now roaming the Glades. They are threatening endangered wildlife there -- and, Lord forbid, a visitor in the Everglades ever encounters one.
One idea seems particularly promising. Some, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, appear open to an organized hunt. This is not intended in any way to open our national parks to hunting per se. Steps must be taken to protect the Florida panther and other wildlife.
Instead, the U.S. Park Service, under your direction, would allow for a supervised hunt of pythons by park staff, authorized deputies or agents, and volunteers. Given the serious threat from these snakes, I ask that you approve of taking this step.
Doesn't this sound like the premise for a B movie? By the way, if they set up an embedded journalist program during these epic snake hunts, please count Riptide in.