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Florida to Host a Real-Life Snake Whacking Contest

Florida to Host a Real-Life Snake Whacking Contest

Written by Stephen Messenger

Only on the rarest occasions does true life so closely imitate art — but a recent announcement of the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s plans to eliminate an invasive species is sure to have some crying out “The Simpsons already did it.”

In the classic 1993 episode “Whacking Day”, the residents of fictional Springfield are invited to partake in an annual celebration to rid the town of pesky snakes by clubbing them to death — a time honored pastime, we’re told, steeped in tradition, complete with its own Whacking Day anthem:

O Whacking Day, O Whacking Day
Our hallowed snake-skull cracking day
We’ll break their backs, gouge out their eyes
Their evil hearts we’ll pulverize
O Whacking Day, O Whacking Day
May God bestow his grace on Thee.

Seems comically ridiculous, right? Well, now a real-life Whacking Day of sorts is coming to Florida.

On Wednesday, state wildlife officials unveiled plans for its first-ever Python Challenge, a month-long competition calling on the public to kill as many of the invasive serpents as possible for some sweet cash prizes. And thankfully for all those snake-hating youngsters, the contest is open to folks of all ages though hunting permits are only required for participants under the age of 18. So don’t worry, kids, you get to kill snakes too! — but only after you’ve finished your homework (wink, wink, parents).

A $1,500 purse will be awarded to the person who nabs the most snakes, and another $1000 will go to the one who gets the longest one.

Before you go pointing fingers at wildlife officials for encouraging bloodsport in impressionable Floridian school kids, just hear them out. This isn’t about having a grand ol’ time bludgeoning snakes. No, it’s about raising awareness, duh.

The intent of the 2013 Python Challenge™ is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife. Through the 2013 Python Challenge™, the FWC and its partners will share knowledge about Burmese pythons in Florida, encourage harvest of these snakes, and highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership so nonnative species such as Burmese pythons are not released into the wild.

And if that bit of inspiration from Florida’s conservation authorities isn’t enough to put your mind at ease over this real-life Whacking Day, take comfort in this bit of scripture from Reverend Lovejoy:

And the Lord said, “Whack ye all the serpents which crawl upon their bellies, and thy town shall be a beacon unto others.” So you see, even God Himself endorses Whacking Day.

Okay, it’s fair to say that, in this unlikely intersection of reality and fiction, desperate times may call for cartoonish solutions. After all Burmese pythons, a non-native species, have pushed many local Everglades species to the brink of extinction. This problem needs to be resolved for the greater ecological good, to be sure. But is enlisting the public to kill wildlife virtually unchecked really the best solution? Lest I need to remind you, Florida’s the place where a lady saw an endangered manatee and thought it would be a good idea to ride it like an inflatable raft.

Who knows, when the contest gets underway next month, Floridian’s better judgement will reign supreme. Or, perhaps they’ll be like Homer: “Maybe if I’m part of that mob, I can help steer it in wise directions. Now where’s my giant foam cowboy hat and airhorn?”

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.

 

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172 comments

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1:42AM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

I approve -- please kill the snakes -- that may be invasive even to many other places.
ON OTHER LINKS PLEASE DO NOT SIGN PETITION TO SAVE INVASIVE SPECIES OF SNAKES -- THOUGHT TO BE ENDANGERED IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

PLEASE SAVE OUR BIRDS, OUR ANIMALS, AND OUR PEOPLE FROM THESE SNAKES IN FLORIDA AND OTHER PLACES.

THESE SNAKES COULD DESTROY THE ENTIRE BIRD AND ALL SPECIES AND ALL ANIMALS AND THEN THE TRESS -- AND THE WHOLE FOREST -- THE WHOLE ECOSYSTEM.

THE SNAKE CAN RECOVER IN IT' OWN HABITAT. SAVE THE PEOPLE FROM THE TROUBLE OF WALKING INTO THESE SNAKES -- and possibly not surviving an encounter -- such as some people and animals have been killed on other continents and islands where invasive snakes have taken over -- leaving the area with no native species and destroyed habitats -- void of almost all life.

1:41AM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

NOT SIGNING PETITIONS TO SAVE INVASIVE SPECIES OF SNAKES -- BECAUSE THERE ARE ENOUGH OF THESE SNAKES -- IN THE PLACES WHERE THEY ARE NOT CONSIDERED INVASIVE. WILD ANIMALS LIKE THESE HAVE A WAY TO NOT BE COUNTED -- AND STAY HIDDEN. DO NOT BELIEVE EVERY THING THAT YOU READ.
THESE SNAKES DO NOT NEED TO BE RESCUED IN FLORIDA -- TO BE SAVED. WE NEED TO SAVE THE BIRDS, THE OTHER ANIMALS FROM THE SNAKES -- MORE THAN AN INVASIVE SNAKE THAT WOULD DESTROY ALL THE OTHER SPECIES.

PLEASE DO NOT SIGN PETITION TO PROTECT THESE SNAKES. PLEASE SAVE THE PEOPLE FROM HAVING TO RESCUE AN UNWANTED INVASIVE SNAKE.

THESE SNAKES WILL DESTROY ALL THE OTHER ANIMALS, BIRDS, TREES AND SPECIES, THAT LIVE IN FLORIDA. IF THEY GET A HOLD OF CHILDREN AND PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES THEY HAVE KILLED THEM.

THIS TIME LET THE HUNT FOR THE SNAKES CONTINUE -- AND MAY ALL HAVE COURAGE TO TAKE ON A PREDATOR -- THAT HAS BEEN KNOW TO EVEN KILL PEOPLE.

1:40AM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

Kill the snakes quick and clean -- not some wacky method.
Get real -- the snakes kill people.

The snakes may have been breed over the centuries to be strong -- or may have developed to be strong by survival of the strongest. As people we may still have the brains to get up and kill the snakes before they destroy all of Florida and other places that they have already spread too.

2-YEAR OLD KILLED BY SNAKE IN FLORIDA.
Should There Be Stricter Rules for Owning Constrictors? | Care2 ...
by Kevin Mathews; February 3, 2014; 11:30 am ... In an extreme and tragic example, a Burmese python that got out of its container killed the family's two- year-old ...
http://www.care2.com/causes/should-there-be-stricter-rules-for-owning-constrictors.html

5:09PM PST on Mar 8, 2013

What a SICK world we live in :(

11:51AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Eradicating invasive species be they animal or plant species is vitally important.
Equally or indeed even more important, is the eradication of the brain dead members of the human species, who believe it is a good idea to collect, import, breed, and sell these invasive species for PROFIT.
Perhaps working along side the "Snake Whacking Contest", there should be an "Invasive species dealer / owner Whacking Contest".

5:47AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

I think your attempt to use the Simpson episode to misrepresent the nature of the Python hunt is appalling. You have totally misrepresented the python problem and Florida's solution. Shame on you. You really should research things before you write about them. I understand you try to explain the problem a little at the end, but I think by then you have lost most of your readers. They are off on a tangent thinking Floridians are whacking innocent snakes to death without reason. Hope your proud of yourself for promoting support for the thousands of non native (invasive species) Pythons who are squeezing slowly to death and eating every mammal in the Everglades .
I used to support Care2cause but now that I have first hand knowledge of a problem and see how they allow ridiculous articles to be published about them, I think I need to read all their articles with a grain of salt.

5:13AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Articles like this are a danger to society. Obviously most people don't read to the end or comprehend it because its not written in strong enough terms. So they end up thinking you are serious about Whacking Day actually happening in Florida.

Pythons are a REAL problem. They are are an invasive species ( meaning they dot belong there at all) and are destroying our Everglades. They are eating every animal in the Everglades including endangered species. If not stopped, they will be the cause of the extinction of many species. This article has created a surge of support for letting the snakes be and doing nothing to stop them, because people are too lazy to read an entire article and they make the rest up in their minds. What will happen when these HUGE snakes eat every mammal in the Everglades and start eating our Florida children ? Then will it be okay to do something about it?

9:53AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Who ever came up with this should be hunted down and smashed over the head!! This person (or persons) is not a human being with a concience and a heart even for humans!!!

7:36PM PST on Feb 1, 2013

If people are upset about this, than you should be outraged by the rattlesnake roundups. The promoters of the roundups do this and more. In Oklahoma, they freeze the rattlesnakes so they can be handled and they jerk the fangs out and then sew their mouths shut. They use this snake which is half dead for photo opportunities with kids and others who just don't understand at how this is animal cruelty. With the mouth sewn shut, the snake can not drink water and is in the sun for hours, and it slowly dies. All the other snakes are beheaded but before they kill them, the snakes are abused, kicked and dropped. Chopping their heads off is the worst way to kill a snake. The head can live on for a long time after it is severed from the body. This has been going on for decades. Don't you think it is time for people to become outraged at the cruelty to rattlesnakes? Young kids are allowed to witness this and even become involved. It is time for everyone to become involved in taking these barbaric rattlesnake roundups and transforming them into educational festivities where the snakes live and people are educated on the good things that snakes do! Rattlesnake venom is used in medicines to help save humans. It is time for us to save these creatures!

1:33PM PST on Feb 1, 2013

The ‘Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’ is creating a problem in attempting to resolve another. I am an active member of several wildlife organisations and understand the undesirability of non-native species. However to attempt to “raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem” they come up with this financially rewarded scheme to encourage children to kill wild creatures?

I am appalled at the naivety of this plan. I specialise in treating disturbed and disaffected children and anyone who encourages a child to kill is guilty of child abuse (or they would be in the UK). Violent and aggressive behaviour in children is often generalised rather than victim specific. For instance, a child who is referred to me described as “aggressive towards female staff’, is often found to be aggressive towards other groups too. For some children, an encouragement to kill one species can be seen as a green light to kill others (such as other (rare) snakes, reptiles and creatures that they “don’t like”). Once they get a taste for taking life, some will take this further. Who is going to pick up the pieces later - the ‘Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’?

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