Because of Pythons, Nine Lives May Not Be Enough for Florida Panther

Florida Panther[br]

If cats have nine lives, an endangered cougar subspecies may be down to its last one. The Florida panther has been a whisker away from extinction for decades, struggling to survive amidst habitat loss, pollution, disease and uncontrolled hunting.  Unfortunately, massive, hungry snakes from overseas are bringing more darkness to the future of this Sunshine State mascot.

Giant Burmese pythons are gorging, hissing and crushing their way through the Florida Everglades. These invasive snakes are gobbling up mammals left and right that serve as the food for panthers.  A new study blames a more than 90 percent drop in wildlife sightings of raccoons, white-tailed deer and bobcats in the Everglades on Burmese pythons. These lethal reptiles have no natural predators in the region, like living in wetlands and can live a year without food. They can also live for up to 25 years, grow over 20 feet long and weight up to 200 pounds.

Irresponsible owners who can’t handle giant predatory pets like Burmese pythons dump them in the wild where the snakes terrorize native wildlife and people. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibited the importation and interstate transportation and sale of the Burmese python and three other non-native constrictor snakes. However, the agency dropped five other dangerous constrictors from this list. A full restriction of invasive constrictor snakes would save taxpayers money and help endangered species in the Everglades.

There are fewer than 200 Florida panthers left in the wild, and invasive species like the Burmese python are only making the problem worse. Take a moment to take action and keep this American icon from disappearing forever. Click here to see the work the National Wildlife Federation and the Florida Wildlife Federation  are doing to save the Florida panther.