A wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Research Center in Gainesville is one step closer to solving Florida’s python infestation.
John Humphrey designed a trap to catch pythons with Tomahawk Live Trap. The costs for the trap were covered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the USDA. Humphrey says each trap costs roughly $80 to purchase for testing.
“It took me about an hour to think of the design and it took me a couple days to actual make a mockup of the design,” said Humphrey.
Humphrey said researchers had been trying to build a trap for pythons but they kept running into the issue of trapping non-target species, such as armadillos and raccoons.
“To me it was a pretty quick response in how to deal with this because the one thing about pythons that is unique compared to any other native snakes is that they’re larger, heavier and longer than our biggest native snakes on average,” he said.
Humphrey is testing the trap at the National Research Center in Gainesville using captive pythons that are held in outdoor pens.
“We are constantly trying to better and improve and find out the limitations and the strengths of this trap and how it can be used in the field,” Humphrey said.
One trap has already been placed in the field in Miami to help with a boa constrictor problem in the Deering Estate area.
“The bulk of the python problem is down in the Miami area across to Naples, in a line, somewhere around the I-75 corridor,” he said.
Though it may be ambitious, Humphrey hopes to capture all the pythons in Florida.
“It’s my opinion that this problem has been going on for 20 plus years and it’s very likely that is going to take that long or longer depending on funding,” Humphrey said.
The patent for the trap’s design was first filed three years ago. It was issued on April 3.