The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Category: Tuesday Terrors (page 1 of 2)

Everglades Python Eats Deer

Edit: This will take place of Tuesday Terrors this week

Figured I’d throw this one out there before -everyone- had already heard about it. My mom sent me this article the other day, most other article pretty much say the same thing:

As if whitetail Does needed anything else to be paranoid about…

The fact that this happened doesn’t surprise me really. The snakes are everywhere down there and I’m sure this isn’t the first time it’s happened…It’s just the first time we’ve seen it. For anyone that doesn’t know, the Burmese Python (along with thousands of other exotics and invasives) is running loose in South Florida, particularly the Everglades which is most similar to its natural habitat.

The snakes got into the wild via the exotic pet trade. They simply get too big (up to 20ft) and some people didn’t want them anymore and let them go. What resulted was the release of an invasive super predator in the Everglades. The Burmese Python will eat just about anything that it can fit in its mouth and many biologists fear it poses a serious problem for threatened or endangered bird or small mammal species.

During a wildlife techniques course that I took, we were asked to design a poster presentation to help solve a wildlife technique problem. I chose, “Capture methods of the Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades”. The issue right now, is that the snakes are -extremely- difficult to find. The Everglades literally is “a river of grass” and finding them is quite the challenge in the high grass. Baited traps don’t particularly work because the snakes prefer live prey (just imagine the flak someone would catch for live baiting a trap with a cat or something). Funnel traps might work, but then you’re just hoping the snake slithers by and falls in. Scent dogs have the possibility to work, but most of the snake’s time is spent in the water, making trailing by a dog very difficult. Right now, the two most common methods that I’ve heard of are these: Drive along a road at night and look for them crossing the road. And radio tagging adult females and re-releasing them into the wild. Re-releasing actually seems to be a more effective method. This is because when the snakes breed, a female can draw multiple males two her and they have this giant, breeding, snake-ball thing going on. Using radio telemetry, biologists can just locate the female, and dispose of all snakes present around her.

I, of course, made up a beautiful poster for wildlife techniques, presented it flawlessly to the class, and awaited my grade.

80%…B -. Little did I know, that my professor was actually called down to South Florida to be on the conference board to help solve the Burmese Python problem. He said essentially what I said which was “there’s no good way to catch them”. And I guess since he obviously knew a bit more about the situation than I did, he felt my presentation was lacking.

Hopefully we find a solution soon. Their spread north continues, though I question exactly how far north they can spread due to freezing winters. I personally think they should just put a 100$ bounty on each snake’s head, let people take an snake identification test, and if they pass, give them a license and the go-ahead to kill as many as they can find.

Couldn’t hurt…

Tuesday Terrors: Bees and Wasps

As I stood there in Austin Cary Memorial Forest, trying to remember the scientific name of Fetterbush for a Forest Ecology class, something kept buzzing around my head. My group members were all in a similar situation, standing waist deep in Saw Palmettos and blackberry briers, and trying to recall scientific names. The buzzing continued around my head until I finally noticed a Yellow Jacket trying to land on my chest.

You stupid…get away…gah…dumb thing, are the usual thoughts as one tries in vain to shoo away a wasp. The key word here is A wasp. Just one.

Photo taken from entnemdept.ufl.edu

The following sting on the knuckle and emergence of a swarming Hymenopteran death cloud resulted in a slightly different response. The string of expletives that followed could make a drunken pirate blush. To add, my thrashing and near teleportation from the area sent my Forest Ecology group running out of the woods like a live mortar round had just landed nearby.

Yes, for the second time within a year, I’d found a Yellow Jacket nest. They nest in the ground and I managed to stand right on top of it. Luckily (I guess), I was the only person who’d been stung. We soon picked a new area to do our survey, and I used some ice I still had in a cup to help with the swelling on my knuckle. Also, I didn’t get stung as badly as I did over the summer. That resulted in several nasty stings and me running a few hundred yards before I finally escaped.

Getting stung can obviously be avoided. It’s just important to watch where you’re going and what you’re doing. I thank God that I’m not allergic to them. One of the guys in my Forest Ecology group is allergic and had -he- been the one to step on the nest, the outcome would have been much more serious.

I realized that I literally have -no- photos of bees or wasps. They’re generally something I don’t hang out around very often, and certainly not long enough to snap a picture. I’m certain I’ll run into plenty more in the future, but I hope they’re one at a time. Two nests within one year are two too many. 

Tuesday Terrors: American Crocodile

So there I was today, fresh out of my Practical Plant Taxonomy mid-term and getting ready to go hunt. All my gear was lined up: Bow, tree stand, back pack, fishing rod, and cooler. I planned to spend the whole rest of the day out in the woods.

Until I face planted in my bed and slept for four and a half hours.

Once I finally snapped out of my coma, I really wanted to be in my stand. However, the last thing I wanted to do was fill up the Jeep with gas, drive out to the woods, and haul all my gear to the back of the swamp…Then back out. So instead of going hunting/fishing today, I sat on my butt and played video games and relaxed for the first time in almost two weeks. I’ll chase deer and catfish Thursday.

I didn’t forget Tuesday Terrors though (even if I am writing this at 12:30 am Wednesday morning).

This week’s Tuesday Terror is the American Crocodile. A surprisingly large amount of people are unaware of the fact that the US does, in fact, have crocodiles. The most common thing I hear is someone calling an Alligator, a crocodile.


Gator in the Glades

They are two completely different species and Florida is the only state in the US that has Crocodiles. However, their range is extremely restricted. I certainly won’t be walking along the beach in Pensacola and run into one…Unless of course it escaped from the zoo.

Map taken from nationalgeographic.co.uk

The American Crocodile is restricted to the Everglades and 10,000 Islands region in South-Southeast Florida. It ventures into saltwater a bit more frequently than Alligators and primarily inhabits the Mangrove swamps in this region of the state. Mention a true Saltwater Crocodile and many people envision Steve Irwin wrangling a ferocious Croc in his khakis. The American Crocodile is actually a different species and thank God. They aren’t nearly as aggressive as the Saltwater Crocodile located in places such as Australia. To give you an idea of the aggressiveness of those guys, I heard this story on the radio and found a couple of reports online.

http://www.efarming.com.au/News/general/26/04/2011/136930/crocodile-attacks-fisherman-in-boat.html
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/croc-lands-in-fishermans-boat-and-attacks-in-nt/story-e6freuy9-1226045044470

Apparently the Croc jumped out of the water, and snatched a fisherman up to his shoulder WHILE HE WAS IN THE BOAT.

You can scratch “Kayak fish in Australia” off my Bucket List…Unless of course, I’ve already reached the end of my Bucket List.

The American Crocodile is apparently a little more…Chill (Though it’s not something to go hug). There are a couple of key identifying features that one can use to distinguish omnipresent Alligator from the American Crocodile. I think the most obvious feature are their teeth. When an Alligator has its mouth closed, most of its teeth aren’t visible. When the American Crocodile, on the other hand, has its mouth closed, almost all of its razor sharp teeth are visibly sticking out. Another key feature is the snout shape. Gators have blunt, rounded snouts. Crocodiles have very long, almost pointed snouts.

Photo taken from scienceray.com

Finally, the scales on a Crocodile’s back can give it away. Unlike the a Gator’s back which is kinda lumpy and the spikes on the tail aren’t all that sharp, the Croc has near spikes sticking from its back and tail.

I of course, had only read these things for some of my classes like Wildlife of Florida. Given a bleach white skull on a lab desk, I could tell you the difference between a Croc and a Gator. But last spring I got a chance to see one of these American Crocodiles in the wild, and it was obvious it was a Croc.

While on a kayak fishing trip in the Everglades last February, I paddled into a small pond to start casting around. Immediately upon entering the pond, I noticed what looked like a giant gray pile of dirt on the far end. As I got closer, I realized that it wasn’t a pile of dirt, but rather a Gator. A HUGE gator. I then did the only logical thing to do in such a situation…

I paddled closer.

Once I got within about 60 yards of the living dinosaur, I realized that it wasn’t an Alligator. It was 100% an American Crocodile. Visible teeth on the outside of the mouth, huge sharp tail spikes, and a narrow snout. He was also gargantuan. I paddle a 16 foot kayak and I certainly didn’t feel like the longest thing in the pond.

American Crocodile while on a kayak fishing trip

Even laying on his stomach, the Croc’s back came a good 2 1/2 foot high.  I then snapped a few pictures, and decided to be on my way before it decided to move off the bank. It was a pretty cold day, so I doubt he really felt like moving, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

I did a quick search to see whether or not there had been any documented attacks by American Crocodiles in the US. Though I did find many in Mexico, and some South American countries, I couldn’t find anything about attacks in the US. That certainly doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It just means it hasn’t happened yet. With conservation awareness growing for the species, and human population/expansion on the rise, an attack on a human in the coming years wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

If you’re ever lucky enough to see one, just remember to give it space. Please don’t EVER feed one and have it start associating humans with food. And I wouldn’t advise swimming near it. Other than that, you should be well prepared to encounter one.

Oh, and never go kayak fish in Australia.

I’ve still got quite a bit of catching up to do with my reports, so hopefully I can knock those out later this week. And if you haven’t done so already, please vote in the poll on the upper right side of the web page. Stay tuned!

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