July 24, 2007

Python Pete

There were a lot of great bits in Andy Revkin's New York Times piece about how thousands of pythons are devastating Everglades National Park in Florida. Most of them originally arrived as "discards or escapees from the bustling global trade in exotic pets," and now they're taking over and eating everything in sight. Fortunately, though, the park rangers have backup:
On a recent checkup on several tagged females, Mr. Snow and Lori Oberhofer, another park biologist, headed out in Mr. Snow’s battered, white S.U.V. with a beeping radio-tracking receiver and "Python Pete," a beagle trained to sniff out pythons.
And who, pray tell, is "Python Pete"? Here's an earlier profile of the puppy in National Geographic—from back when Pete was still a hunter-in-training in 2005—which includes this much-appreciated detail:
As he does in training, Pete will stay on a leash once he is on real missions. The aim is to keep the beagle from becoming a snake snack.
Excellent. Actually, trawling around Google, it seems that Python Pete might just be the best-profiled beagle in history. The hype is unreal: "Before Python Pete, biologists had captured 68 pythons. Now that he's on the job, they hope to catch a lot more." Sure, sure, but where's the follow-up reporting? How's the dog doing now that he's finished his training? What's his body-count so far? No one can say.
-- Brad Plumer 10:50 PM || ||