Is Kate Wong Wrong About the Python Challenge?

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Is Kate Wong Wrong About the Python Challenge?

Posted 2012-12-12T14:58:00Z  by  <a href="/">Barbara Baird</a>,Barbara Baird

Is Kate Wong Wrong About the Python Challenge?

Sometimes, you can learn a lot from the comments that follow an online story (even here on Often entertaining, sometimes educational, these posts usually swing from one end of the opinion spectrum to the other, no matter what the subject.

So when Kate Wong with “Scientific American,” expressed her disdain with the latest plan put forth by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, that being to hold a month-long Burmese python catch-and-kill contest beginning Jan. 12, 2013, you can bet the some of the comments appear, well, venomous. Others squeezed hard on her naivety regarding wildlife and the ecosystem.

The facts: We have reported here on the problem with the burgeoning population of Burmese pythons in the Everglades and other places in Florida. Here's what the Conservation Commission proposes for its inaugural Python Challenge:

  • Anyone over the age of 18 may register for the contest

  • Registrants must take a 30-minute online training course on how to detect, capture and humanely dispose of said snakes

  • The contest is also open to those who already hold a python permit

  • The contest begins on Sat., Jan. 12 at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie

  • There is no fee for registering

  • Contestants may register throughout the month

  • Python Pickers are eligible for the Grand Prize of $1500 for the most Burmese pythons captured and $1,000 for the longest python, on Feb. 16 at Zoo Miami

Wong, in an article titled “Why Florida's Giant Python Hunting Contest Is a Bad Idea,” is worried that contestants will not properly identify the snakes and that the snakes will be mishandled. She further wrings her hands and writes, “And obvious human safety concerns aside, can someone who has never handled snakes before really be counted on to kill a large constrictor humanely in the heat of the moment? Check out those euthanasia guidelines -- they're more complicated than you might think.”

I bet “Scientific American” loves the response to Wong's opinion, which numbered more than 2,500 in two days. Several of the readers noted that Wong offered no other ideas other than a Debbie-Downer attitude about the whole thing.

My favorite comment (and I admit, I did not read all 2,500+), came from Frank, who wrote, “Kate Wong, nice editorial. If you do not like the contest, do not enter it.”

My feelings exactly.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of a contest to kill more Burmese pythons in Florida, or is there a better solution?