I'm finishing up a great trip to Florida this week. Tuesday morning, I was with Secretary Salazar and Senator Bill Nelson, along the Tamiami Trail.
No, it's not actually a trail.
It's basically a fill causeway through the heart of the Everglades that was constructed in the early 1900s, connecting Tampa and Miami; hence "Tamiami."
It constricts water flow through the Everglades, and a major part of the Everglades restoration is a project to elevate a 1-mile stretch of the road, allowing water to flow more naturally and letting the "River of Grass" behave more like a river.
But we weren't there to celebrate that project.
We were there to announce our new Lacey Act rule to list 4 species of large constrictor snakes, including Burmese python as injurious and to ban their importation and movement in interstate commerce. Believed to be derived from discarded or escaped pets, there is now a wild, naturally reproducing population of Burmese pythons likely totaling in the tens of thousands.
They can grow to over 20 feet and exceed 200 pounds. On Tuesday, we had a relatively small one on display for a battery of media cameras; a mere 13-footer, weighing about 90 pounds. Plenty of snake for me, thanks very much!
Photo Credit: (Tami Heilemann/Department of Interior)
Today, we feature Dan's Los Angeles Times op-ed on a deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome. The disease is killing bats, seriously affecting the economy and the environment.
October 12, 2011
By Dan Ashe
It's October, which means that bats are once again having their annual star turn, popping up on classroom bulletin boards and store windows across America. But this year, actual living bats in North America aren't so abundant. They are being decimated by a deadly health epidemic.