Invasive Swamphen Thrives in Florida

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla., May 17 (UPI) — An invasive purple swamphen may be added to South Florida’s waterfowl hunting season to reduce the bird’s thriving population, state wildlife officials said.

The hen, porphyrio porphyrio, a violet-colored bird with a red bill and cream-colored feet often is confused with the purple gallinule, a smaller native bird found throughout South Florida’s wetlands.

Swamphens, native to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific islands, flourished after being released in the mid 1990s by residents near Pembroke Pines, Fla., The Miami Herald reported Monday.

“They’re really hardy, really adaptable, and eat whatever they want,” said Ellen Donlan, a scientist with the South Florida Water Management District. “Their native range is so large, there’s no reason they couldn’t take over Florida.”

In 2006, state officials killed more than 3,000 swamphens. Wildlife officials are considering a limited public hunting season on swamphens this year, possibly in conjunction with duck season in South Florida, the Herald reported.

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