Python Hunters Under Fire for Possible Cruelty-to-Animals Violations

PETA Calls On Authorities to Investigate How Hunters Killed Snakes—and Ensure That They Adhere to Approved Killing Methods

For Immediate Release:
December 19, 2017

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla.

This afternoon, PETA fired off a letter to the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to urge them to investigate how hunters are killing snakes in the SFWMD’s python hunt—and ensure that they are held accountable for any possible violations of Florida’s cruelty-to-animals statute.

In the letter, PETA points out the only methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for killing pythons that can be effectively carried out by laypersons in circumstances such as the hunt: a single shot from a captive-bolt gun or other gun to destroy the brain. But a recent Miami Herald article includes a video of a participant in the SFWMD’s python hunt admitting that he shot a snake in both the head and, later, the neck, indicating that the first shot was ineffective—causing the animal to suffer. The article also includes a photograph of a snake with an apparent gaping wound in the area of the lungs, heart, stomach, and liver, who was apparently killed as part of another eradication program.

“Shooting sensitive snakes multiple times and inflicting gaping wounds on them would cause egregious and unnecessary suffering,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on the authorities to ensure that any participants in this or other hunts who kill snakes in horrible and illegal ways are held accountable for breaking the law.”

In its letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—also reiterates that bounty-like efforts (such as the hunt’s hourly rate and additional monetary bonuses to hunters) have never been used successfully with invasive reptiles. A report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey found that such bounties have been detrimental because they add value to the invasive species, which creates economic pressure to ensure the population’s survival.

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