SNAKES on the Hill: Bill Would Use Dogs to Go After Python Invaders

Among all of the other action on the Hill today was the introduction of a bill to stop roving, hungry python invaders.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) introduced the Stopping Non-Native Animals from Killing Endangered Species (SNAKES) Act, which would implement a pilot program to use specially trained dogs to detect Burmese pythons and other non-native constrictor reptiles that are ravaging native wildlife throughout the Everglades.

"It is estimated to now hold tens of thousands of pythons that are devastating natural wildlife and endangered species living in the Everglades. In some instances, mammal populations are down 90 percent from just a few years ago," Hastings said.

While emphasizing that the python-sniffing dogs are taken out of harm's way before they can be eaten, the congressman highlighted Auburn University EcoDogs that can cover more distance with a greater accuracy rate in some scenarios than human snake-hunters.

The SNAKES Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to work with stakeholders to establish this detection program full-time.

“Once the dog indicates that a snake is in the area, it is taken a safe distance away while a human handler captures the snake. This way, the dogs never approach the snakes and are never placed in a position of danger," Hastings said. "This dog detection team is a great tool that can help prevent what has happened in the Everglades from happening elsewhere in the United States, as well as assist in containing the snakes populations that are already out there."