Everglades Python Hunt: Can We Officially Call This One Giant Publicity Stunt? We Can. UPDATED

python1.jpg
Score one for the Burmese python.
UPDATE: Florida Wildlife Spokesperson Carli Segelson said the python hunt has, in fact, accomplished its intended goals. Organizers primarily wanted to raise public awareness concerning the Everglades' python epidemic. "We definitely had success," she said.

ORIGINAL POST: For the heat and hyperbole, who knew it was going to be this bad? But it is.

The Great Python Hunt of 2013 may have been the greatest publicity stunt in the history of the Everglades. When the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission sent us its first python news release months ago, we wrote an introductory story about the fracas and received a huge response. As did the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, or just about any other outlet that wrote something about pythons.

So we kept at it. Writing more stories, wringing out more interest, because it all seemed too gratuitous to be true -- knife-wielding men plodding into the Everglades to kill snakes without training or supervision? -- and we didn't yet know the truth.

We didn't, but we're pretty confident Florida Fish and Wildlife did: Pythons are almost impossible to find. They're remarkably easy to capture once spotted. But it turns out, discerning the brown-and-black creatures in a brown-and-black landscape is an ocular challenge more daunting than the bottom line on an opthamologist's test.

Yep, we've all been had.

Here's what happened: The python hunt story went bonkers, going national, getting spots on CNN, the New York Times, et al., and more than 1,000 hunters spanning the Union arrived to kill them some snakes.

Three weeks in, only 41 have been captured so far.

Pause. Reflect. Comprehend.

41?!?!

41.

What was the motive behind the hunt? Ostensibly, to winnow the number of pythons, an invasive species allegedly decimating the habitat's natural fauna, but now, that doesn't seem all that convincing. If anything, the python hunt was something similar to an awareness drive for child abuse. Or a 5K walk for breast cancer.

The actual walk doesn't do anything to cure cancer, but the act of organizing the walk, and then walking, should engender greater public concern for cancer -- or so the logic goes.

But can we honestly say that the state and the nation is now more concerned about pythons in the Everglades? Or did this all instead become a farce, and the only ones being laughed at is us, Florida?

The subcontext behind every national story concerning the Python Challenge: Florida's CRAZY. The hunt fit every national stereotype of our state -- that we're simply one big face-eating, strange-crime-producing, Schmorgus Board of oddity and quirk.

So now, 41 snakes are dead. More than 1,000 hunters have hunted. And, really, nothing has changed. The number of snakes remains level, and those same natural species that were threatened by the snakes' invasion remain endangered.

So score a fantastic publicity stunt for Florida Fish & Wildlife.

They duped us good.

Follow Terrence McCoy on Twitter.



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14 comments
chameleontat
chameleontat

I guess ignorance is bliss!  This python/witch hunt only proves that the numbers are far fewer than the inflated number released by the FL Fish and Wildlife, Animal Right Propagandists and politicians that have driven this whole MAKE BELIEVE catastrophy.  The reduction of native species in the everglades coincides with the increased number of alligators since their near extinction numbers in the 70's.  Those numbers at that time were abnormally high and threatening the Fauna of the Everglades due to the unbalance of nature and the depleated alligator population.  The handfull of pythons in the Everglades are not decimating anything and are being played as a tool for government funding and strictor animal control laws by organizations that stand to PROFIT off the fear, panic and hysteria propaganda.  The pythons have many predators in the Everglades which include the feral hogs, alligators, small to med. sized mammals, birds and other reptiles that feed on the snakes and their eggs.  This will eventually and naturally balance the scales as always if left alone.  God and nature always find the balance point if idiots stay out of the equation.  Yes the media and the politicians have been dupped but voluntarily so as they are more than willing to be dupped for Profit.  Sadly reality and truth are a thing of the past in both media and politics.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

sorry Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission but if we hadn't spent $4,7oo,ooo,ooo,ooo fixin iraQ we would have given you some funding to properly maintain the everglades as promised since marjorie stoneman douglas requested we pay attention to that river or grass BUT

you see we have to "invest" in america's future elsewhere like afghanistan and syria so we don't have time for our homeland natural treasures here

plus the FFWC doesn't kickback like the defense department does so no one really gives a shit about the snakes or the everglades or whatever else is out there until we can pour cement over the whole thing and build a new shopping mall for tourism

wingedwolfpsion
wingedwolfpsion

Why has it never occurred to even one news agency to suggest that, just maybe, 41 snakes DID put a dent in the Burmese population... because there actually aren't that many of them out there.  "We cannot see them, so they must be there!"   Seriously?

T-BonezPythons
T-BonezPythons

I would have to say that the ones who were "duped good" in your own words, are the readers of one sided media. With any amount of further investigation you would easily find many experts to show the python population is a serious inflated estimation. The Florida Game and Fish followed the medias lead on the premonition of 150,000 snake estimates and allowed the media to show its ignorance once again. They gained the coverage to give awareness of invasive species and they began to show the numbers of pythons are no where near biased estimations put them at. They have succeeded in proving most media will take a fear factor and run with it for ratings even if it lacks the truth and credibility that was once expected from the "news".

Snakeman
Snakeman

ps: people eat snake.  and sell the skins. 

Snakeman
Snakeman

 The problem is real.  the story (news), or is it Journalism, was sexy.  So the national media jumped on this for.... RATINGS! a surprise to no one.

After all it doesn't matter if we actually do have a predator with no known enemies, its the hunters that are the point of the story.  

sadly the hunters didn't produce the sensationalism needed or desired.  -hopefully the standoff in AR will provide the material to feed the news machine.

next attack the lion fish derby's .... Oh Wait.  


FatHand
FatHand

Why the negativity? It was a unique event that did bring a lot of attention to the Everglades' python problem. I don't think anybody thought this was really going to put a dent in the python population. I look at it more as an experiment to see if mass hunts could be effective, as well as a way to learn more about the pythons in the Everglades. I would guess that 41 pythons is the most ever caught in a month, and they do some sort of post-mortem investigation on each of the specimins. I really don't think the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission was trying to put one over on the New Times, but you say they "duped us good." For what reason? Just to waste the NT's time?

KenEsq
KenEsq

Hey they got you to focus on the snakes in the Everglades and not the ones living in Tallyhaha.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.............and since BERGERON bought all that new and expensive equipment to reBUILD haiti and take the investment tax credit (but somehow all that fell through) we now have available that same equipment to build out on the everglades....................since in DAVIE we have add on the maximum number or ramps and lanes to 595 and even spent $6,ooo,ooo just raising one half-mile section of ramp 18 inches higher and also built to OVERcapacity all the empty school rooms we could..............and if we are gonna keep the KICKback gravy-train rolling (nothing nastier than a commissioner who doesn't get their piece of the pie except an UNtipped waiter)..............we gotta start killing everything out in the everglades NOW as in today before some dopey animals rights people get those snakes "federal protected" status

this is south FLORIDA...............lets's finish what we started in paving over everything

mccoy.terrence
mccoy.terrence

@wingedwolfpsion OMG YOU'RE RIGHT! There are exactly 42 pythons. Almost got 'em all, boys! Keep huntin'! 

*Knives sharpening*

wingedwolfpsion
wingedwolfpsion

@Snakeman The Everglades is heavily contaminated, and the Burmese pythons that have been captured there have been found to be too loaded with toxic mercury to be safely eaten.

mccoy.terrence
mccoy.terrence

@FatHand If anything we're congratulating the organization on a good publicity stunt, FatHand. The whole thing was zany and hilarious. Though it's delivery was a tad surreptitious. 

FatHand
FatHand

Of course, maybe I'm still bitter I failed to "dispatch" any pythons.

FatHand
FatHand

Sounds a bit negative.

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