People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is responding to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ declaration of war against pythons with a request the invasive snakes be given a humane death.
“We realize that something must be done to fix the exotic-pet trade’s mistake, but the ture test of a civilization is whether it can solve its prblems humanely,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said. “PETA is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to ensure the requirement of special methods necessary for the humane killing of these animals who have ended up in Florida’s swamps through no fault of their own.”
DeSantis said last week he wanted to mount a stronger assault against the invasive snake eating its way through the Everglades, including requiring a Python Challenge snake hunt every year instead of every three years.
A July agreement between state management agencies also will orchestrate a streamlined approach to hunting snakes, including allowing hunting in state parks where pythons may roam.
DeSantis said the U.S. Department of Interior has agreed to move forward with a python removal plan in Big Cypress National Preserve.
“We are committed to doubling the resources for python removal in the upcoming year,” DeSantis said. “We are putting a lot of money into restoring the Everglades and we want to make sure that ecosystem is strong.”
While the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission pay specially-licensed hunters to kill pythons, there is no coordinated statewide management plan as there is for the invasive lionfish and melaleuca tree.
In April, a group of federal, state and nonprofit officials launched an effort to hammer out a python plan.
It’s hoped the blueprint for python control, which has been talked about since at least 2016, will increase agency coordination, share successes and expand mitigation to all of South Florida and its myriad landowners.
“I wish this had happened a long time ago, but it is finally taking place,” said Art Roybal, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service senior biologist, during an April interview. “We knew pythons were going to be an issue. I call them all-terrain eating machines.”
PETA’s recent python concerns follow a 2018 request that the water management district snake hunts be investigated for animal cruelty after a record 17-foot snake was captured. A video taken includes the hunter explaining how he shot the snake in the head and later in the neck.
PETA said the only humane way to euthanize a python is with a “penetrating captive-bolt gun or gunshot to the brain.
“Proper positioning for the penetration of the captive-bolt or firearm projectile is critical because of the unique physiological characteristics of reptiles, who require immediate destruction of the brain in order to avoid undue pain and suffering,” PETA said in 2018.
A similar request that invasive green iguanas be killed humanely was made by PETA this year after FWC posted on its website that “encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible.”
FWC said people cannot violate animal cruelty laws in killing iguanas, but did not offer suggestions on ways to kill the reptiles in a way that causes the least amount of pain and distress for the animal.
“If the commission insists on urging inexperienced and untrained homeowners to kill iguanas, it must first provide accurate and detailed explanations of the methods of killing them that are acceptable as well as those that are not,” PETA said in a statement.