Old Gator’s True Whereabouts Revealed

Gator_and_Python

Old Gator hunts a little differently than most.

Yesterday, Old Gator posted on our humble blog that he was taking a “short vacation” to meet some “deadlines written in whitewash.” Uh huh.

Today begins Florida’s annual Everglades Python Hunt. Coincidence? I think not.

The World’s Most Interesting Baseball Blogger™ is most definitely a-huntin’ Florida’s most feared invasive species, the Burmese python.

How do you kill a python? Carefully.

Burmese pythons play a great game of hide n’seek, and are very difficult to find. They have been wrecking ecological havoc on the natural wonderland that are the Florida Everglades. This little exercise might be fun for the hunters, but last year, the hunt only captured 68 snakes. The exact number of pythons is not known–again, wicked hide n’seek skillz–but best estimates in 2011 were about 2,000. However, according to the state’s wildlife commission, the point is not to eradicate the snakes, but to raise awareness of the problem.

Whoever brings in the most pythons wins $1,500. Second prize is $1,000. If you’re interested in joining Old Gator, here’s the info: http://pythonchallenge.org/. There’s even official gear. Get your 2016 Python Challenge Sippy Cup.

Be careful out there, Old Gator. We want you back.

74 thoughts on “Old Gator’s True Whereabouts Revealed

    • Poached Burmese Python Curry

      Ingredients:

      1 pound Python steak
      4 -5 Shallots – peeled and sliced
      1 Tablespoon Turmeric powder
      5-7 Garlic cloves – peeled and pounded
      Ginger – 2-3 inches long, peeled and pounded
      Lime wedges
      Kaffir lime leaves – finely chopped
      Lemon peel/skin
      10 stems Lemon grass – peeled; finely chopped and pounded
      2 Teaspoons Paprika
      White rice wine
      2 Teaspoons Salt
      2 Tablespoons Peanut oil
      Chilies or black pepper seeds – pounded
      Water

      Directions:

      First, boil/poach the python steak with lemon peel, rough lemon-grass stems, skins of shallots, garlic and ginger in several ounces of water. When the flesh is soft, take the steak out and leave it to cool. Separate the bones from the flesh.

      Fry shallots on low heat until slightly brown.

      Add the ginger, garlic and all other spices.

      Turn the heat up and keep on stirring for 3 minutes. Add flaked and diced python flesh. Add rice wine, a cup of water and salt. Reduce heat and simmer until lean.

      Serve this with a plate of hot steamed rice and boiled seasonal greens.

      This is my source: http://mobile-cuisine.com/recipes/recipe-poached-burmese-python-curry/

      I don’t cook python. I’m not that bad ass.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My problems with this are A. The areas included aren’t all of the Everglades and surrounds, and B. The FWC is charging 25$ apiece for the “privilege” of participation. Where’s all that money going? Certainly not to prizes. If they truly want to start reducing the numbers, declare total, unrestricted, global war on the damned things. Ask for volunteer python hunter-downers. Kill every one you see, wherever you find it, how ever you can. Instead, the FWC has seen their “challenge”, and other efforts as nothing more than another revenue source.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is essentially no effective way to even manage the population, much less to reduce or eradicate it. Unless you want to hire 1000s of people to be full time hunters…in which case, the population will probably only grow slowly instead of quickly.

      Thinking you can eradicate them now that they are established is like thinking that the populations of carp or snake heads can be managed. We fucked up, and now there is nothing to do but live with the consequences.

      Like

      • I don’t know what the answer is. Don’t have any clue as to how we (Floridians) can mitigate the problem. I only know that what the FWC has tried so far isn’t working. They have never shown any forward thinking in their policies or regulations, and have never made any attempt to rectify- nor even any admission of- bad policies that they have implemented in the past. If the best we can do is just hold our own with the invasives, then we’ve already lost.

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        • There isn’t anything you can do. It is done. All of that effort makes very little difference at all…if any.

          This is one reason things like pollution and over fishing and poising water supplies or over farming are such horrible things. After you screw things up, there often is no quick fix. If you poison a water supply, it is essentially impossible to clean it up. If you screw up arable land, there is no magic to make it suddenly farmable again. If we keep burning fossil fuels, there is no effective way to return the atmospheric composition to its previous levels. Once you over fish populations of various food fishes, especially those that are food for larger species, there is no quick way to fix that…it will either self repair over decades or it won’t.

          There are many environmental issues that, once you fuck it up, that’s pretty much it…which is why these issues are important for long term environmental health and ecosystem services.

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        • The problem with most potential answers is that the unintended causes could be as bad or worse. If you are familiar with the history of humans trying to manage or eradicate populations of species they have introduced (usually on purpose, most recently less so), you know that the “solutions” often make things worse.

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        • Often, that is the best plan. When doing something is more likely to make something worse or have no effect but be expensive….what would you recommend?

          This isn’t the movies. There aren’t magical solutions that work and don’t have massive negative consequences.

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        • Of course, this is not the movies. If it was, I would just call Samuel L. Jackson to deal with these mother fucking snakes.

          I am not saying there is a simple solution or that I know what it is, although sometimes a simple overlooked solution is sometimes the best answer. All I am saying is just because you have not thought of an answer, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Try harder.

          Sometimes it’s true, the best thing is to do nothing–I don’t deal in absolutes–but that seems to be your response to many problems. My make-up finds that answer largely unacceptable. I am not ready to surrender the planet.

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        • Here’s the thing though…as far as environmental impact goes, the pythons aren’t that big of a deal compared to many other situations we are creating or just becoming aware that we created…it just happens to be the one where you live.

          Surrender the planet? Hyperbole much? We’re the ones beating the planet into submission.

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        • I’m referring to other comments you’ve made in the past in which you’re basically surrendering the planet to various environmental threats. You’re a pessimistic sort. Obviously, the snakes are not a planetary issue.

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        • I’m just old enough to have watched society ignore these same threats for 25 years all while making things worse.

          If it is inconvenient or costs profits, we, as a species, just don’t make the environmentally friendly decisions. It would be great if we did…but I’m basing my expectation on the available evidence…which suggests that we’ll wait until it is too late with people not really caring until effects are either irreversible or will take decades to correct.

          I’m not alone in this. In general, over the last 5 years the scientific community has grown much more pessimistic…almost to an alarming degree. I’m used to being on the pessimistic end (sadly, that view keeps being reinforced and justified by human actions)….when my view starts to become the norm, it is upsetting to me…and right now, that is where we are.

          Obama has been in office 7 years, we have made zero environmental gains during that time. Things have probably gotten worse more slowly than they could have…but worse is worse.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The notion that doing something by default is better than doing nothing is one of the problems with situations involving invasives….because often doing nothing is better than doing something…which now means you have created more problems and solved nothing.

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        • FWIW, there is really no such thing as “forward thinking” for invasive such as Burmese Pythons. The only forward thinking approach would have been “don’t allow them on the continent to be pets because if they get out it could be a huge problem”, to which people would have scoffed….just like they always do.

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      • Like I said, I don’t know what the answer is, or if there even is an answer, but I will continue my personal war with them, as will my nephew and all his airboat buddies farther south, and none of us really give a big rat’s ass what restrictions or fees the FWC tries to impose. My nephew and his friends spend a lot of time out on the west side of the Everglades, and to a person, will kill any python, or anaconda, or boa they see.

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        • Killing them isn’t a bad idea. And they are generally good eating. The only benefit of the snakes is probably that people enjoy killing stuff and generally there are no restrictions on hunting or killing invasive species.

          Like

      • Per Lions, Homo sapiens occidentalis usually screws things up worse with the introduction of some “fix” for the original problem, which then becomes a problem itself.

        That’s why “geoengineering” for climate change should be eliminated from all playbooks.

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        • Actually, per Lions, it’s not sarcastic. Out in the Southwest, worries about human-caused erosion led to the introduction of tamarisk, also known as saltcedar. We know now that the tree is a huge water-guzzler.

          If I wasn’t clear, I think geoengineering to try to forestall climate change would be a massive clusterfuck in all likelihood. We need to stop using fossil fuels ASAP, then look at non-geoengineering mitigation efforts.

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        • Oh, if the “sarcasm” was referring to Lions’ long comment, I agree with him. Obama has less than 1 year left, yet (even if it has no chance politically) refuses to push for a carbon tax + carbon tariff. That’s the only real tool we have.

          Like

      • I’m not willing to sit by and watch an area I love be slowly destroyed. Doing nothing is not the answer to this particular problem. If we, as local residents continue to do nothing, nothing will continue to get done. Yes, in some instances, doing nothing and allowing nature to heal herself is a viable alternative, but not in all cases. There are many instances where people have screwed things up beyond reasonable repair, but we, as earthly inhabitants have to come up with some solutions. Many of the solutions will be expensive, and societally painful, but we can’t just throw up our hands and say “Damn. There’s nothing we can do.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are talking about complex ecological systems. Good luck. There is no way to just extract the pythons or to target them with something that won’t have huge negative effects on many other things living there.

          There is a difference between giving up and realizing that the best course of action is to not make things worse.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t studied ecology since college. It was a long time ago but it was one of my favorite courses. I remember studying the pond near our campus for a project. It was a complex little system–the algae bloom, the mold on the rocks, the different species of fish, the plants, the willow tree, the frogs, tadpoles, the dragonflies–seemingly a million insects actually, but I liked the dragonflies and their humble beginnings in the water. How the temperature fluctuated in the shade under the tree and affected the growth of the algae. How the rain affected the water, its pH and so on. No pythons, thank heavens. I doubt I would have been so brave to study the pond. I knew one little change affected everything in that pond ecosystem.

          I also know the Everglades dwarf the complexity of that pond by an infinite magnitude. I know many people largely suck. I’m not a moron. A goofball, but not a “moran.” I know we’ll need luck. Thanks.

          You scientists sound a little burned out. What are you studying?

          Like

      • You guys really got it going. I would point out that we (homo sapiens) are already changing the environment in innumerable ways (and always have). We build, tear down, and create new environmental niches regularly. To say we should abandon any efforts to correct or mitigate our impact is lunacy. I grant that snakes in the Everglades don’t equal the extraction, refining and usage of fossil fuels to the big picture of Earth’s environment, but if the answer is do nothing because the problem is too big we’ll kill ourselves and each other that much sooner.

        Like

        • As an ecologist, I can tell you that there are problems that are fixable and those that both are not and are not really worth trying. The python problem isn’t even the biggest recent invasive issue in the US, it is just the one the read about where they live.

          Humans have been responsible for 1000s of individual invasive events. I let you guess how many times a continental invasive has been successfully eradicated. There are a couple of uninhabited small oceanic islands from which rats were eradicated. It took years of concerted effort just to remove them from a couple of small islands that have no human visitors…and rats are far easier to remove than snakes in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats.

          Humans have introduced Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus throughout the globe, those two islands remain the only successful cases of eradication (and they are recent, who knows how long it’ll last).

          There are still laws on the books in many states that require all adult males (usually defined as age 13 or above) to shoot at least a dozen starlings/year…in an attempt to control their spread.

          The characteristics that make species good invasives (i.e. good at establishing and naturalizing) are the very characteristics that make their populations nearly impossible to control, much less reduce or eradicate.

          We can’t even get people to take climate change, pollution, ground water loss/poisoning, desertification, or overpopulation seriously….and people are worried about a few snakes.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, so this is your area of expertise. That is very cool; it’s a fascinating subject. Sincere question. My ecology professor had two hates: General Electric for what they did to the Hudson River in the 1960s and 1970s and golf courses. He took us on a trip through Van Cortland Park’s golf courses and showed us perfectly clear small streams. The water looked drinkable, it was so clear. He said the water should not look like that. Run off from pesticides had killed all life. “Golf courses are a waste of good land,” he would say through gritted teeth, more than once. Mind you, this was in the 90s. Do you share his hates?

          “I let you guess how many times a continental invasive has been successfully eradicated. There are a couple of uninhabited small oceanic islands from which rats were eradicated…”

          So you’re saying there’s a chance?

          I never said the pythons were the biggest invasive species problem in the US. Hell, they might not even be the worst invasive species in our state. They are a problem, and it’s more than just “a few snakes.” (Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/predatory-pythons-shift-everglades-ecology. Scholar.google.com is my friend.) Saying that is belittling the issue, and it mocks our concern and you know it. Of course, we’re concerned. We live here. We care. Instead of mocking us, as an ecologist, be pleased that there are common laypeople concerned. There might not be as many of us as there should be who care, but there are people who care very deeply about the work you do. Thank you.

          Like

        • To be clear, I’m an ecologist….but I don’t specialize in invasive species….but it is hard to do ecology without considering the impacts of invasives…even the work I’ve done in the mountains of Puerto Rico has to consider the effects of a lot naturalized invasive trees and shrubs that are now part of the normal rain forest composition.

          Golf courses don’t bother me any more than any other human development. Home owners use a crap ton of pesticides and herbicides as well….and all of the impermeable surfaces have a huge effect on soil moisture, quality, and temperature.

          Every single person should hate chemical companies and petroleum companies. They are evil. For example, atrazine is a common herbicide made by Syngenta. It chemical feminizing animals…ALL animals, that are exposed to it…including humans. Men who spray atrazine were tested and had reduced fertility because of hormonal effects of their exposure (you ever wonder why so many people have problems having kids these days?). Atrazine is already outlawed in Europe. The company came up with a replacement for Atrazine and of course did their own testing…internal documents showed that IT IS WORSE than Atrazine, but they are selling it by the billions of gallons anyway because it’ll be years before the new version is banned.

          Every big chemical company buys land to dump their waste…where do they dump it? Public water ways.

          Here is a recent article on Dupont’s nefarious deeds in one area: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html?_r=1

          The thing is…every single chemical company or company that produces hazardous by products (tanneries, dye companies, paper mills, petroleum companies, etc.) does this…they find a place they think people won’t catch them and they dump. Some companies actually have their tankers just stop in neighborhoods at night and dump their waste into the sewers. For every dumping scheme that has been discovered, there are tens to hundreds that have not….and that is in the US or Europe…where people kinda care…in Asia, Africa, or South America? oof.

          Really, if you consider all of the things we are doing to the Earth and the rate at which we are doing them…it is overwhelming.

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        • You know how you think I am unjustifiably pessimistic? It is probably because I am exposed to crap like this nearly every week…even though I try my hardest to avoid it: http://retractionwatch.com/2016/01/12/journal-retracts-paper-suggesting-valuable-real-estate-is-home-to-endangered-bird/

          If you don’t want to sift through it all. A paper was published a few years ago that suggests that the abundances of an endangered bird are 20 times higher than every other previous study suggests. Despite most scientists disagreeing with the model and conclusions, state officials immediate seized the opportunity to start approving construction projects to cut down woodlands where the bird lives and trying to get the bird de-listed.

          Now a follow up study using that data and more and more and better modeling approaches concludes that the previous estimates were in fact too high (that other study remains the only one of many to suggest such abundances)….and people worked behind the scenes to get the paper retracted….there is really no motive beyond politics and money to do that.

          In science, if something is published and you think it is flawed…then you do work to demonstrate that fact. These issues and debates are supposed to play out in the public arena (i.e. in the literature so that everyone can read the studied and decide for themselves what the evidence shows). The only reason to prevent that process here, is money. The number of people in positions of power that are willing to sell the environment to make a buck is staggering.

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      • Totally agreed on Lions’ later comments. I mentioned tamarisk as one familiar example out west. There’s many others; cheatgrass is a notorious invasive that was planted for ground cover and graze … because cattle were overgrazing.

        On the dumping, I’ll go one further. Some companies just don’t even give a flying fuck. Like Cancer Alley in Baton Rouge, they figure people will accept it as the price of having petroleum jobs there.

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        • That’s the thing…no matter where you live, if you pay attention to local environmental issues….some one is dumping, some one is using politics to get around endangered species issues in order to destroy more of the environment so that a few people can make a lot of money while everyone else pays the environmental price, there are an aquatic invasive plants, invertebrates, and fish that are problems….there are terrestrial plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates that are problems….local politicians have facilitated and contributed to many of the problems…so they sure as hell aren’t going to admit it and fund relief efforts…and no one gets rich trying to deal with invasives….so even those that possibly could be managed are ignored by government agencies and left to private citizens to do real work on (though local or state agencies will do ineffective PR related things).

          Hell, the USFWS is getting notorious for facilitating the wants and desires of those in power rather than protecting local natural resources.

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        • YES on FWS! Like the dunes sagebrush lizard, about which I have blogged repeatedly. The “conservation plan” for it, written in conjunction with then-Texas Comptroller Susan Combs fronting for the oil bidness, is a fucking crock.

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        • I read all your responses. It truly sickens me–it angers me to the point of tears, what we’ve done, what we’re doing. This beautiful orb, being destroyed. Tears are worthless though. Action matters. I do my best.

          I pay attention to local issues. Florida is a punchline when it comes to environmental issues. That viper, Gov. Scott, would sell his own mother.

          I’ll keep fighting, even if it’s largely futile.

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        • I’ve already done all of that crying. I just try to avoid any news as best as I can to keep from getting angry.

          I know you think I have a low opinion of people. That opinion isn’t about individual people, but about humans as a group…and that opinion has been hard won. When you see the same issues being shoved aside and ignored decade after decade…it is exhausting. You just get tired of selfishness and willful ignorance.

          Imagine being the group of people whose expertise and advice is ignored as liars pursue dollars…and then years later people come to you for solutions to the mess they created wanting you to fix the problems they created….then, they decide they don’t like any of the solutions because that’ll keep them from making money and ignore you again.

          This isn’t about me…this is just how science in general, and environmental science in particular, has been treated for the last several decades.

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        • I can completely understand that frustation. It’s not an exact comparison, but I see it on a micro level with some patients in very poor health, who have neglected themselves all their lives, and then come to us to save them. “You’re an obese smoking alcoholic non-compliant diabetic. What do you want me to do for you?” I want to say. “I can’t save you. It’s too late.”

          Like

        • Yep. Same deal. You don’t want to give up, but the issues require buy in from other parties….so you put your energies into endeavors that are more likely to be fruitful.

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        • I didn’t get a chance to read it until tonight. Busy day at work. I’m not sure I agreed with him about the salt marsh, and someone raised the point I was thinking in the comments section.

          He raised some interesting points too about how people discuss environmental issues, and how appealing to emotions is more likely to elicit a positive response. Good stuff, thanks.

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        • Sometimes Brian takes a particular view with the specific goal of encouraging thought or discussion about something from a perspective that people likely haven’t considered, which is, I think, what he was doing with the salt marsh example…because if you want to argue for the preservation of salt marshes, there are definitely some holes in the normal arguments people use….and he didn’t even get into the fact that salt marshes rely on a very specif range of water depth and many of them are going to disappear anyway as ocean levels rise.

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        • 10 feet? You got all kinds of time. Worst case, it’ll still be above water in 100 years….but in 50 people might start to worry about it.

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    • Well, lions, and you too socratic, the problem with the pythons is like having a very large splinter stuck in your forearm. According to you, you should just leave it there, because removing it would hurt. Removing, or only thinning out, the snakes would in no way negatively impact the Glades. That’s why they’re called invasive in the first place. They don’t belong there. They’re severely impacting the ecosystem there. They have absolutely decimated the populations of small native species. I know there are other, larger environmental problems out there, but this is one I can do something about with personal action. It’s not a matter of a large commercial endeavor making obscene profits, thereby allowing politicians to ignore or forestall action. It’s something that can be acted on by anybody going out into the Everglades, and being willing to ignore
      the bureaucrats with their “We want you to report where the snakes are so we cam manage them better” guidelines, and that’s the guidelines they (the FWC) have in place.

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      • the problem with the pythons is like having a very large splinter stuck in your forearm. According to you, you should just leave it there, because removing it would hurt.

        That’s not what they are saying at all.

        There is a difference between giving up and realizing that the best course of action is to not make things worse.

        To try to make your faulty analogy work here…if you’ve got a very large splinter in your arm and you are just interested in “doing something” about it, why not take a chainsaw to your shoulder. That will get rid of the splinter. Or maybe turn a blowtorch at that splinter for a few hours. That would get rid of it too. Given those options, leaving that splinter in there seems like the best course of action, doesn’t it?

        The knee-jerk reaction of “Must. Do. Something.” doesn’t mean that the something is actually a good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My understanding of what Paper lions is saying is a bit different than badhair’s understanding. I believe lions is saying that intervening with invasive species can have unexpected repercussions, frequently worse than the original problem. I understand that. Ecosystems are fragile. I’m not suggesting doing something, anything for the sake of doing something. That’s a terrible idea. What I am saying is that simply because we haven’t solved this issue in the past, doesn’t mean we should give up. Just because we don’t have the answers today doesn’t mean the answers are not out there. I do not want my scientists so pessimistic.

          The issue needs to be carefully studied, and it is being studied. All repercussions of intervening need to be considered. Closing your minds to new ideas simply because old ideas haven’t worked out is the worst idea of all.

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        • Just because we don’t have the answers today doesn’t mean the answers are not out there.

          Agreed.

          However, I have near-zero hope of those answers being found until sufficient motivation, specifically in terms of financial benefit, is applied to the search for those answers.

          We, as a species, don’t give enough a shit about our collective home planet to do anything to keep it hospitable to human life without the “right” people making piles of money off the endeavor. There’s decades, if not centuries, of evidence to support that conclusion. That’s not pessimism, that’s just realism.

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        • Who said I believe in nothing? I believe in the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, and good scotch…among other things.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Lefty, what I’m trying to say( and probably not so clearly) is that the pythons don’t belong in the state of Florida! It’s not like I’m trying to upset the balance of nature here. The snakes don’t belong here. By targeting the invasives, you’re not upsetting what nature has built over thousands of years, but trying to mitigate an unnatural situation. When I say “kill all of them”, I’m not advocating removing all the snakes in the Glades, but only those that don’t belong there. I wasn’t saying “Take extreme measures to remove that splinter”. You misunderstood what I was trying to say. I’m not saying “Go out there and nuke the Glades, cause that will get rid of the pythons”. Individuals can, and would be able to apply targeted removal to them, but the FWC wants to “regulate” everybody in the state, and, in their regulations, requires a permit, which is only valid in specific areas, reporting where you collected the snake, and giving them the snake so that they can “study the snakes”, and ” better manage their presence”. For all these reasons, I have to call BS on their efforts.
        I really wasn’t just saying “Do something, anything”. If that’s what everyone got from my rant, I apologize. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make.

        Like

        • So, the FWC is coming down against any random jackass wandering into the glades to shoot/kill wildlife that they think doesn’t “belong” there?

          And you think that’s the wrong stance? You believe things would be better if everyone, on their own and without any oversight and/or training, took matters into their own hands to “apply targeted removal” to something that is perceived as a problem?

          Like

    • Humorous? I think not. I submit, from gator’s “You Asked for it post” before posting his “Big Animal Story”

      It’s called “The Big Game, or, I Can Write an Animal Story.” It has no pythons. I thought that’d be a nice way to try to discipline myself.

      Has the discipline waned?

      Like

      • I emailed OG the link to this story. 🙂

        I was both in awe and envious reading “The Big Game…” because I know I could never write like that. I may not agree with all of his musical taste, but damn, that man can write.

        Like

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