Florida Fish and Wildlife has yet to respond to a July 30th letter from Lori Kettler, senior counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), concerning humane death for Florida's thousands of Burmese pythons. Tori Perry, senior cruelty caseworker at PETA, told the Juice today that the guidelines for hunters going after the giant snakes, as posted on FFW's website, are too vague.
Perry says PETA would like to see Florida Fish and Wildlife update its guidelines for hunters. "The permit says that pythons may be killed with a blunt or sharp hand-held device," Perry told us. "We direct people to the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines for euthanizing snakes, which says that you should apply blunt trauma to the head with enough force to stun the reptile and then decapitate it. It's horrible to decapitate a fully conscious snake; their brains can stay active for up to three hours."
We alluded to our recent dilemma with the common garden iguana and asked if freezing was a humane solution.
Perry said she thought probably not. "It doesn't necessarily kill them
to put them in the freezer; it just slows them down. I've heard of
frogs being frozen and then thawed out alive," she said. She indicated
that a head blow with a hammer and then quick decapitation would
probably do the trick.
We contemplated the notion of holding an iguana still for long
enough to administer a good blow with a shovel. And then we thought
about using our expensive Wusthof chef's knife for decapitation. This
little daydream left us feeling decidedly out-of-sorts.
Hunting season for Florida's giant Burmese pythons began in July for selected hunters. In late August, permitting was expanded to hunters bagging other game -- deer, alligator, hogs -- and now includes green anacondas, Nile monitor lizards, and four other species of python.
Just this week, a United States Geological Survey report found that five giant, nonnative snake species, including boa constrictors and Burmese pythons in Florida, could pose high risk to native species because of their voracious omnivorous appetites, expert reproductive strategies, and ability to travel long distances.
While PETA is against killing animals in principle, Perry said, the organization recognizes that nonnative species let loose in the wild by pet owners are special cases. "These are feral animals that are threatening native species," she said. "They are not designed to live in that area and could wipe out entire ecosystems."
Perry got a call from an Oakland Park resident recently concerned about the fate of the 6-foot iguana that bit 7-year-old Madison Wells. "We certainly sympathize with a lizard that is just minding its own business," she said. "But our main concern is that when animals have to be euthanized, it should be done as humanely as possible."