Help us battle invasive species in Southwest Florida

September 10, 2021

Invasive species are a top-tier environmental issue here in Southwest Florida. Burmese pythons are eating their way through the wildlife in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem; cane toads outcompete their native counterparts for food resources and, as we all know, they produce a toxin that poses a serious risk to our pets. Every day in the field, we learn and move a bit closer to a science-based solution that will help control the spread of these invasive animals and we need your help to continue this critical work.

In the Picayune Strand State Forest, trudging through waist-deep water in the sweltering heat, our Burmese python research and removal team follows the incessant beep of a radio-telemetry device. They do this to locate a tagged male “scout” snake which, during breeding season, will inevitably lead them to their target – a large female. But tracking them is only half the battle. Once these extremely well-camouflaged animals are located, our team must expertly wrestle the snake, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, into a bag and then hike that heavy animal back to the truck.

By utilizing the scout snake technique, our team has removed more than 20,000 pounds of python from Collier County.

Back in the lab, the snakes are humanely euthanized before our team performs a necropsy and checks for parasites, takes DNA samples, and swabs the animal for pheromones that may be on skin lipids. Those samples are then sent to multiple research collaborators. We do all of this work to establish the science of Burmese pythons in South Florida, which we hope will contribute towards developing a better tool in the future – one that is based on the knowledge of this invasive animal’s biology.

We could not do this work without your generous support. You are vital to helping this research continue and are playing an important role in making sure we protect our Southwest Florida ecosystems from invasive species.

Please donate to our 2021 Science Research Fund today!

Another major project for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida involves the research and removal of the invasive cane toad. Cane toads are not aggressive, but their toxins are capable of causing severe illness and even death to potential predators. The toxin, known as bufotoxin, is produced within the enlarged glands found on their neck and shoulder region. It is highly toxic when ingested, especially for pets such as cats and dogs. Aside from the toxins, cane toads have a huge appetite and are capable of eating just about anything they can fit into their mouths.

After the sun sets and darkness falls over Southwest Florida, our team goes to work. Similar to the Burmese python program, our cane toad research involves a mixture of radio-telemetry tracking, trapping, and diet analysis. This work is important because we know that understanding interactions with native species and identifying ‘at risk’ areas will help create management plans, which could prevent the spread of cane toads into more natural areas. If that spread happens, they will have an even greater potential to cause major damage to the ecosystem.

Please donate today and help us continue our research projects that help our local and state leaders make sound decisions for the Southwest Florida environment.

I hope my passion for removing invasives and protecting our native species helps inspire your support today!

Thank you, in advance, for your generosity and commitment.

Very truly yours,

Rob Moher
President and CEO
Conservancy of Southwest Florida