By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- When it comes to small animal problems, the local animal control helps out. When the problem is python-sized, however, a team of trained people are available to help.
The Treasure Coast members of the Python Patrol met recently to begin preparations for the coming 2013 season.
The group is trained and handles invasive reptiles here on the Treasure Coast. In addition, the group provides educational information about invasive reptiles.
Currently, the group consists of Ken Gioeli, extension agent for the St. Lucie County Extension office; Amanda Thompson, the education specialist at Ox-Bow Eco Center in Port St. Lucie; Wren Underwood, the biologist for the Wrensong Science and Environmental Education; Bill Benton, past president of the Florida Master Naturalists of St. Lucie County; and Chris Lockhart, a ecological consultant for Habitat Specialists.
"A meeting was held by the python patrol on Jan. 23," Mr. Gioeli said. "We were able to go over reported sighting of invasive reptiles and create an outline of what to do in the future."
The idea for the python control group began in 2008 when Burmese pythons were found in the Keys area. Since then, several groups have been formed and trained to identify invasive reptiles that might be a danger to animals in the area.
If an invasive animal is seen, residents are requested to go to www.ivegot1.org and record the information. The website also contains a complete list of invasive reptiles.