EVERGLADES, Fla. - Even after the annual hunts for the invasive Burmese pythons, the species continues to be a pest in Florida. So, officials got creative and decided it was time to call out the dogs.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, water management, and the National Park Service have assembled K9s tasked with tracking Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades.
"The dogs bring a slightly different approach to finding pythons in that they’re not visually searching for pythons," McKayla Spencer, FWC commissioner, explained to WSVN. "They’re actually trained really to search using their smell. So, they’re finding pythons that are hidden that we can’t necessarily see. Well, that doesn’t matter for the dogs. They’re going to find that python regardless because they’re searching with their scent."
Using their unique search-and-seizure skills, they lead their handlers to the slithery threat to the Everglades ecosystem. It takes about three months to properly train the dogs.
"We specifically train the dogs to find Burmese pythons. Yesterday, as we were working, the dogs bypassed two native snakes and gave no alerts at all," said J & K Canine Academy CEO Pepe Peruyero. "We want to make sure we don’t get a positive or false positive on a non-targeted species."
The state has invested billions of dollars to keep the Everglades strong and healthy, only to have the reptile invaders threaten the hard work.
"We’re spending billions of dollars on re-plumbing the Everglades, but if we re-plumb the Everglades and there’s no native animals left, we’ve failed," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. "We need to eradicate the python from the Everglades."