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Everglades Pythons Survive Record Cold Snap

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Last year’s record cold snap didn’t do as much as scientists thought they would to reduce the python population in Everglades.

In 2010, 322 pythons were captured in the Everglades National Park, only about a 10 percent drop from the year before, according to the park’s biological resources chief David Hallac.

“That actually shocked me,” Hallac said. “We couldn’t believe how many snakes were coming in. At a minimum, I was thinking maybe a 50 percent drop.”

A 15-foot-long female was found in the park in last March, weeks after the freeze. Water managers bagged a 13 1/2-foot-long male Burmese python in a west Miami-Dade County canal last week.

“Right now, the numbers aren’t all that different,” said park biologist Skip Snow. “We’re finding them in the same places we’ve been finding them.”

Scientists had hoped the cold weather would help control the spread of Burmese pythons and other exotic species that pose ecological threats to South Florida’s native plants and wildlife. Instead, it took a toll on some of our area’s native species.

Nearly 250 manatee deaths were recorded in 2010 which set a one-year record for total deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service.

A plunge in ocean temperatures killed off corals in shallow waters from Biscayne Bay through much of the Florida Keys and left hundreds of sea turtles dead or stunned and sick. More than one North American crocodiles, about 10 percent of the coastal population, also died from exposure to the cold.

Peter Frezza with Audubon of Florida in the Keys counted roughly 90 thousand dead snook over the course of about a dozen trips across Florida Bay and into the Everglades. Snook fishing remains restricted on the Gulf Coast, in Monroe County and in Everglades National Park.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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