Florida must kill its invasive pythons, but PETA says they’re being killed the wrong way

The snakes have wiped out raccoons and foxes in parts of the River of Grass, but PETA says people are shooting them too many times

Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times

Unlike other animals frequently found in the wild in Florida — manatees, panthers, sea turtles and so forth — no one is campaigning to save the pythons.

The giant snakes are considered an invasive species, not one that belongs in the Everglades. They have virtually wiped out all the raccoons, foxes and other small mammals that once thrived in the southern part of the River of Grass. A recent study has raised the question of whether they’re also spreading new parasites among native Florida snakes.

The state has set out to kill off as many pythons as possible. None of the organizations that usually protest animal cruelty have complained about this — until now.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Tuesday fired off a letter to the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to question how one record-breaking python was killed.

A video that the water agency posted online, which the Miami Herald published on its website on Dec. 5, showed two hunters who had captured and killed a record-setting 17-foot, 1-inch snake. One of them mentioned that the snake was shot in both the head and, later, the neck.

o PETA officials, that was one shot too many, prompting the letter questioning whether the snakes are being killed in a humane fashion. The correct way to kill a python, the letter pointed out, is with a single shot to the brain.

The letter noted that the Herald story also featured a photo of a 15-foot python shot by Miccosukee Indian Tribe police that had a bloody wound on its neck.

“First, if the hunter had correctly positioned the shot to the head, the animal would have died relatively rapidly and there would have been no need for a second shot on the neck later,” PETA general counsel Lori Kettler wrote. “Second, … a python should never be shot in the neck since it’s imperative that the animal’s brain be destroyed immediately to avoid prolonged suffering.”

What’s depicted on the Herald web site “appears to be evidence of a disregard for the ethical obligation of the State and the hunters to ensure that the pythons do not suffer more than is necessary,” Kettler wrote.

full story at http://nationalpost.com/news/world/florida-must-kill-its-invasive-pythons-but-peta-says-theyre-being-killed-the-wrong-way

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