Since the time that man first started to travel, humans have brought invasive species to foreign lands. Bacteria, viruses, plants, domesticated animals, and wild animals have all been introduced to areas that have never had to deal with them before, and sometimes this resulted in substantial economic and ecological damage. Here at Nourish the Planet we call the combination of economics and ecology: ecolonomics. Each year invasive species cost the US billions of dollars, and worldwide the economic losses are staggering. Invasive species also can out compete many of the native species of plants and animals, causing severe ecological damage as well.
This article from Time’s Ecocentric page, discusses how the Burmese Python is causing damage in the Everglades of Florida. These monster snakes thrive because of the climate and easy prey that exists in the Everglades. In fact, they have been so successful that the raccoon, opossum, bobcat, and rabbit populations have been drastically diminished in areas where the snakes are common. Marcia McNutt from the U.S.G.S said, “Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured, and naturally bountiful ecosystems. Right now, the only hope to halt further python invasion into new areas is swift, decisive and deliberate human action.”
Pythons became so ingrained into the Everglades ecosystem mostly by being released by pet owners and hobbyists. While, I’m not about to say that no one should own snakes, I would like to urge people to be responsible pet owners. Remember, to research the animal that you want to get and be brutally honest with yourself whether or not you can provide an appropriate home for that animal. Non only is it unfair for an animals to be brought into an unsuitable home, but it is in our ecolonomic (economic and ecological) interest to be accountable and realistic pet owners.
Written by Rachel Burmeister, Internship Coordinator 2011-2012