Thursday, July 09, 2009


Florida Sen. Bill Nelson delivered a vivid show-and-tell to lawmakers, unrolling the skin of a Burmese python killed in Everglades National Park, all 17 feet of it. Then he explained in graphic detail how a pet python half that size strangled a toddler in her crib last week in a town northwest of Orlando.

''It's just a matter of time before one of these snakes gets to a visitor in the Florida Everglades,'' Nelson told a Senate panel examining an invasive surge that poses increasingly expensive threats to native wildlife, crops, livestock and people.

Gregory Ruiz, a senior scientist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, estimated that exotics already have cost the United States $100 billion a year. He called current efforts to control and eradicate exotic creatures ''a patchwork'' in need of a major overhaul. It was a view echoed repeatedly during the two-hour hearing in Washington, D.C.

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