Invasive snakes

lou jost
Sun, 09 Jan 2011 12:09:54 PST
I've just read the article cited by Judy about invasive snakes. Yes, the scare about invading Burmese pythons taking over the world seems exaggerated. If there were Burmese pythons where Judy lives, she could play baseball with them (they make great bats) for part of the year. 

Nevertheless no one disputes that Burmese pythons are a serious threat to the Everglades (even the cited article agrees with that). So if importation of Burmese pythons had been prohibited years ago, one of the most unusual and endangered ecosystems in the US would have been much better off. Far from arguing against control of non-native species, this case poses a strong argument for it. And for every Burmese python there are hundreds of other non-native snakes and lizards with other habitat requirements. There are surely a hundred non-native potentially invasive snakes for every USDA hardiness zone. This threat is real (though insects are a far greater threat than big animals). A ban on non-native snakes would be a wise thing. How can the handful of people who need to possess these non-native snakes weigh the importance of their obsession above the health and survival of entire ecosystems (which generally include other snakes and lizards that these
 people should ostensibly care about)?

People here have often argued that no plant is invasive everywhere. True enough. But it could also be argued that nearly every ecosystem in the US is suffering badly from invasion by one or more non-native plant species. Granted no species poses a universal threat, but many species pose local threats, and as more and more non-native species enter commerce, many will sooner or later be let loose in areas where they could do damage. 

I would hope that gardeners would better balance their love of their hobby with their (presumed) love of nature and of native plants. A gardener who seriously places his or her gardening pleasure above the continued existence of natural ecosystems is a gardener who has lost sight of why they are gardening. If people who love plants as much as us are not willing to accept any controls that might save some native ecosystems and native plant species, we are traitors to the very things we love.



More information about the pbs mailing list