RESTON, Va., Oct. 13 (UPI) — U.S. Geological Survey scientists say five giant non-native snake species would pose high ecosystem risks if they become established in the United States.
The USGS report is based on the biology and known natural history of non-native boa, anaconda and python species that are invasive or potentially invasive in the United States. Two of the species are documented as reproducing in the wild in South Florida, with population estimates for Burmese pythons in the tens of thousands.
The five most potentially dangerous species were identified by the USGS as Burmese pythons, both northern and southern African pythons, boa constrictors and yellow anacondas.
“This report clearly reveals that these giant snakes threaten to destabilize some of our most precious ecosystems and parks, primarily through predation on vulnerable native species,” said herpetologist Robert Reed, a coauthor of the report.
The report notes there are no control tools yet that seem adequate for eradicating an established population of giant snakes once they have spread over a large area.
“We have a cautionary tale with the American island of Guam and the brown tree snake,” said Reed. “Within 40 years of its arrival, this invasive snake has decimated the island’s native wildlife — 10 of Guam’s 12 native forest birds, one of its two bat species and about half of its native lizards are gone.”
The 300-page USGS report is available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1202/pdf/OF09-1202.pdf.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International