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Nature At Its Best: Man Captures Alligator Killing Burmese Python

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(credit: Steve Greene/Everglades National Park)

(credit: Steve Greene/Everglades National Park)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — One Burmese python was no match against an alligator in the Everglades.

Florida resident Steve Greene caught an amazing moment in nature as the python was grasped in the jaws of an alligator in the Everglades.

“Earlier this month Park staff were notified by Mr. Steve Greene of another ‘Gator and Python’ incident,” the Everglades National Park Facebook post states. “Mr. Greene reported the following: ‘I saw this … as you are heading to Royal Palm. The gator was thrashing around which caught my attention. The gator was moving fast and very determined to get under the bridge.”

That’s when Greene snapped the picture of the alligator killing the python with its powerful jaw.

Officials at the Everglades National Park has been battling an invasion of Burmese pythons.

“The Burmese Python is an exotic, invasive species living in the Everglades,” the Facebook post read. “Occasionally, the American Alligator, an apex predator in the Everglades, is seen consuming Burmese Pythons. (And sometimes the reverse!)

As Florida officials battle Burmese pythons, a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks to overturn the nationwide ban of importing or transporting across state lines Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas, and northern and southern African pythons. The North Carolina-based United States Association of Reptile Keepers says the ban is unnecessary and challenges the science behind it. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are named as defendants.

The ban applies a one-size-fits-all approach to a problem primarily affecting South Florida, said Joan Galvin, the attorney representing the reptile keepers.

Florida’s population of Burmese pythons, which are native to India and other parts of Asia, likely developed from pets let loose either intentionally or in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The snakes don’t adapt to cold weather, which means they wouldn’t last long anywhere else in winter. “Anywhere, pretty much, outside of Florida, they would have zero survival skills and would not pose a problem,” Galvin said Monday.

According to the lawsuit, an initial proposal to ban nine snake species cost the reptile industry tens of millions of dollars as buyers shied away from spending money on pets they might not be able to move to another state. Some of the association’s members euthanized brood stock they couldn’t care for in an evaporating market.

Five species, including boa constrictors and other anacondas, eventually were dropped from the ban but remain under consideration.

Ken Warren, a spokesman for the wildlife service, said the ban will help prevent non-native snakes from spreading and protects native wildlife. The snakes can grow to be roughly 20 feet long or longer, and officials have said the threat the snakes pose to indigenous wildlife could undermine the expensive efforts Florida and the federal government are making to restore natural water flows to the Everglades.

“This is in response to significant ecological impacts observed as a result of a self-sustaining, wild population of Burmese pythons in Florida,” Warren said. “These snakes have the potential to expand beyond South Florida. Large constrictor snakes have demonstrated that they are highly adaptable to new environments, consume a large number and variety of native species, and dramatically change the ecosystems they invade.”

Florida law prohibits the possession or sale of Burmese pythons and southern or northern African pythons, among other large non-native snakes not included in the federal ban, for use as pets.

The reptile keepers association isn’t interested in challenging the Florida law, Galvin said.

“We believe Florida stepped up and handled what they perceived was their issue. As for the 49 other states, we believe this (federal ban) is invasive,” Galvin said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows hunters with special permits to remove pythons and other exotic reptiles from some state lands. Earlier this year, a state-sanctioned python hunt attracted worldwide attention but netted just 68 of the snakes. Officials said the monthlong hunt succeeded in raising awareness about Florida’s python problem.

State wildlife officials also have intensified efforts to keep a cluster of northern African pythons, also called rock pythons, just west of Miami from spreading elsewhere. One of the aggressive snakes killed a Siberian husky in the dog’s backyard in September.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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