Restoring an ecosystem by repurposing an invasive species into wallets and belts

There are now 106 fewer invasive Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades after a state-sponsored multi-week competition that had more than 1,000 registrants from 29 states capture as many as they could through the 2016 Python Challenge.

Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife, and the increased public awareness will help us keep people involved as we continue managing invasive species in Florida,Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron.

This year, the largest snake captured was 15 feet long and weighed 125 pounds.

About a third of the pythons go to Brian Wood, owner of All American Gator Products. He makes into wallets, shoes, belts or handbags. Wood pays up to $150 apiece for the snakes, about the same price he pays for python skins imported from Asia. This helps cut down on importation of these wild-caught pythons, most of which are illegally hunted.

Note from Storm: As a lifelong amateur herpetologist, and python lover in particular, it breaks my heart to see these beautiful animals killed and turned into garments. But I love the other creatures in the Everglades too, so I have to agree with almost any approach that helps restore the ecosystem’s health. I only hope the snakes are killed humanely. With any luck, this supply of skins will undercut the trade in skins from pythons poached from their native habitat, so they won’t have died in vain.

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