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Non-native reptiles deserve a place

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Posted by: EricWI at Sat Oct 1 22:23:25 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

My Word: Non-native reptiles deserve a place
By James E. Peters

Once again, I've read an article negatively depicting the keeping of reptiles and amphibians. This article, "State has world's worst problem with invasive reptiles, amphibians" (Orlando Sentinel, Saturday), says the invasion in Florida is the world's worst. The article also states, "…researchers cannot quantify the damaging ecological and economic effect."

Let's look at quantifiable examples: Monk parakeets in South Florida build their nests around transformers, which can cause power outages. Feral cats kill millions of animals annually, including natives. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spent $53 million the past two years on controlling invasive plants.

Invasive plants pose a far greater threat to Florida's ecosystems than non-native reptiles and amphibians because they crowd out many of the native plants upon which the native food chain depends. Herbicides used to control them can harm wildlife and are costly.

Invasive insects cause millions of dollars in damage to agriculture and homes each year. Dogs kill several people a year in Florida. A pet Burmese python killed a toddler two years ago, but do we penalize everybody for the irresponsibility and gross negligence of a few people?

The Sentinel article does not mention the huge impact that the past two winters have had on non-native reptiles and amphibians. This year, according to the FWC's exotic-species biologist and coordinator, fewer than 20 pythons have been found by the state's licensed trappers on FWC-managed lands in South Florida. Several of the species listed by the University of Florida have not been seen since these severe cold spells.

Burmese pythons have become the "poster child" for invasive species. The UF report and others are nothing more than political conditioning to facilitate the passage of anti-reptile legislation.

The latest efforts include a program on Animal Planet where lead scientists express fear that man-eating hybrid pythons will take over the state. There have been more sightings of Bigfoot and UFOs than these fictitious snakes in the wild.

Science is supposed to be objective, not a solution in search of a problem. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Maybe the Republican-led Legislature can draft a law that provides for a criminal penalty for scientists who spawn such propaganda.
articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-09-22/news/os-ed-reptiles-myword-092211-20110921_1_reptiles-and-amphibians-invasive-plants-invasive-species


   

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