The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has imported snake catchers from among the Irula tribesmen to take down giant Burmese pythons in the Keys.
The pythons are invasive species that have seen their population in South Florida boom over the years and the FWC is willing to think outside of the box to help control the super-sized snake’s numbers. One such program involves bringing world-renown Irula tribesmen from the Tamil Nadu province of India in to help teach some of their skills honed over generations of python hunting in their native land.
“Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach people in Florida some of these skills,” said Kristen Sommers, section leader of the FWC’s Wildlife Impact Management Section in a statement.
In their first eight days on the job last week, the visiting Irula helped bring down a baker’s dozen pythons, including a quartet from Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on North Key Largo, home to a number of endangered species the snakes had on the menu. Among those captured was a giant 16-foot female.
The Irula are being augmented in their work by a group of detection dogs trained by Auburn University’s Canine Performance Sciences Program.
“Dogs are helping to identify areas where pythons are hiding, paving the way for human searchers to target that area for removal,” said University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Christina Romagosa.
For more information on the program visit FWC’s website.