Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) introduced the Stopping Non-Native Animals from Killing Endangered Species (SNAKES) Act. This legislation would implement a pilot program utilizing specially trained dogs to detect Burmese pythons, and other non-native constrictor reptiles that are ravaging native wildlife throughout the Everglades.
"The Florida Everglades, one of the world's largest wetland systems and one of America's most precious ecosystems, is under attack by the Burmese python and other large constrictor snakes. It is estimated to now hold tens of thousands of pythons that are devastating natural wildlife and endangered species living in the Everglades. In some instances, mammal populations are down 90 percent from just a few years ago.
"Auburn University EcoDogs, working along with federal, state, county, tribal government entities, universities, and non-profit stakeholders, recently trained dogs for a study to assess whether detection dogs were an effective tool for python management efforts. As it turned out, dog search teams can cover more distance and have a higher accuracy rate in particular scenarios than human searchers. The SNAKES Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to work with stakeholders to establish this detection program full-time.
"Once the dog indicates that a snake is in the area, it is taken a safe distance away while a human handler captures the snake. This way, the dogs never approach the snakes and are never placed in a position of danger. This dog detection team is a great tool that can help prevent what has happened in the Everglades from happening elsewhere in the United States, as well as assist in containing the snakes populations that are already out there. I urge my colleagues in Congress to support this legislation, and help to protect and restore one of the most unique natural ecosystems."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.