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Tribesmen, Dogs Key In Florida's Python Control

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Tribesmen and dogs are at the forefront in the fight to control the spread of Burmese pythons in Florida.

The Irula tribesmen are world-renowned snake catchers from India, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) officials said.

"Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach people in Florida some of these skills," said Kristen Sommers with FWC.

Within their first eight days, the group found and removed 13 pythons including four in an area at risk due to the non-native species - Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo. The refuge is at risk because it's home to many protected bird species and the federally endangered Key Largo woodrat.

Burmese Python
Detector dog with snake. (Photo by Alex Dyson, University of Florida)

Also helping in the fight are detection dogs which wildlife officials say pave the way for humans to help in the hunt.

"Dogs are helping to identify areas where pythons are hiding, paving the way for human searchers to target that area for removal," said UF/IFAS researcher Christina Romagosa.

The dogs, which use scent to track down the pythons, are trained by Auburn University.

"It is outstanding that they have been able to remove pythons from Key Largo," said UF/IFAS wildlife biologist Frank Mazzotti. "And to get four pythons, including a 16-foot female, is just incredible."

While this unlikely bunch work to control the spread of these non-native snakes, Florida wildlife officials say the community can do their part as well by reporting sightings.

To report a sighting, call 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681) or click here to report it online.



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