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Florida Encourages People to Kill Snakes In a Sick Contest

Just when you think you've heard it all, Florida supports snake-whacking

Every now and again I read something that truly "blows my mind" concerning the utter disregard and disrespect that some people show for the animals with whom we share our planet. Just today I learned that the state of Florida will be hosting a real-life and sanctioned snake whacking - read snake killing - contest (see also). And, a $1,500 prize will be awarded to the person who kills the most snakes and $1000 will go to the person who gets the longest snake.

Snake whacking is being used to raise public awareness - seriously!

Burmese pythons are an invasive species and pose a threat to the Everglades ecosystem because they prey on native birds, reptiles, and small mammals. The snake whacking contest is open to people of all ages and is purportedly being hosted to raise public awareness according to conservation officials. There has never been a documented attack on humans in Florida.

If the pythons are such a major problem, surely there are more humane and compassionate ways to remove them from the ecosystem in which they're clearly thriving. And, they didn't arrive there on their own. People released them when they no longer wanted them as pets. So, the snakes will suffer as they are ruthlessly killed as so many other species because of our own thoroughly irresponsible behavior. We want to have it both ways, but in the end the animals die because our interests invariably trump theirs. 

This is a clear case where compassionate conservation is in order. It may take a bit more time to remove the snakes humanely and place them where they are no longer a threat, but this is a much better lesson in humane education for all involved. This heinous contest sets a horrific example for youngsters about how to deal with "problem" animals and shows them that we can do anything we want to other beings even when we're the cause for their presence. 

Please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building, 620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676. You can email the commissioners here and a list of their names can be found here

There still is time because this most perverse contest begins on January 12, 2013 and continues until February 10. 

The teaser image can be seen here

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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