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Pythons hunt Florida mammals

Ranger holding a Python in Florida's Everglades National Park
Ranger holding a Python in Florida's Everglades National Park

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows Pythons and other big snakes are wiping out a huge number of mammals in the Everglades. Florida Public Radio’s Trimmel Gomes reports medium-sized mammals like rabbits and raccoons have all but disappeared from Everglades National Park.

The study comes just weeks after U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a federal ban on the import of Burmese Pythons and three other snakes. Michael Dorcas, a professor at Davidson College and lead author of the study says Pythons are the prime suspect for the massive decline in mammals.

“Basically what we found in the Everglades National Park where Pythons have been established for the longest. We found severe declines in the numbers of  …and much common mammals such as raccoons, possums bobcats and rabbits.”

Since 1996, Dorcas says populations have declined 85 to 99 percent.  Florida already bans the private ownership of Burmese pythons.