|Sixty-eight pythons were found in the Everglades during the 2013 hunt; that represents the removal of potentially 6,800 new pythons in one generation and 680,000 in two generations from the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades|
A public hunt for Burmese pythons in the Everglades yielded 68 of the invasive snakes, the longest measuring more than 14 feet long, Florida wildlife officials said Saturday.
That might not seem like a success, considering roughly 1,600 people signed up for the state-sponsored Python Challenge that ended Sunday, but Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said the hunt may have prevented thousands more pythons from being born in the Everglades.
Female pythons can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time.
"In our view that number — the number that were harvested, taken out of the ecosystem — was an unprecedented number of samples that will help us answer questions about pythons and make us more effective at tackling this problem, removing them from the system. We're going to learn so much," said Nick Wiley, executive director of the wildlife commission.
The highly publicized hunt probably generated more attention-grabbing headlines than snakeskins. Wildlife officials say that was their goal: to raise awareness about the threat pythons and other invasive species pose to native wildlife.
Researchers say pythons are eating their way through the Everglades, decimating populations of native mammals. The snakes can grow more than 20 feet in length, and they have no predators, other than the humans desperately trying to control their population.Those 68 pythons, representing an invasive species in the Everglades of Florida, in one generation could have seen their numbers improve to as much as 6800; in two generations, the extreme number of pythons would have reached 680,000 (of course, in a competition for limited resources/food, the number would have been less -- but this was the extreme number of snakes potentially disrupting the fragile ecosystem of the area).
Balance must be restored to the fragile ecosystem of the Everglades, or else life will cease to exist with the pythons overtaking all in the swamps of south Florida.
When we last discussed the great python hunt of 2013, we mentioned in passing black history in Chicago. Was it in poor taste, or do the fragile communities different racial populations groups in America create remain untouched by the laws of nature?
A couple of stories about the recently torn-down Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, which were almost exclusively home to black migrants from the southern states, might be a powerful reminder of what happens when - like the Hyena population in The Lion King - a fragile ecosystem is disturbed [Dream Of Progress Died Quickly At Taylor Homes, Chicago Tribune, 12-3-86]:
A crack of gunfire echoes from a distance. It goes unnoticed, a familiar melody to which the young children play. High-pitched voices bounce off the barren playground with its hard, concrete floor. Bodies tangle, scrambling over benches that have no seats and dodging the legs of a rusted swingset without a single swing.
Watching, Edie Bishop sighs.
``This is no place for children,`` the 65-year-old woman says, peering toward the playlot through the zigzag of wire mesh that stretches across her kitchen window. ``Not fit to be anybody`s home.``
She didn`t always feel this way, not when she first heard the city had built housing for people with low incomes and she dressed in her best clothes to inquire. That was in 1960, back when apartments were first rented in the Robert Taylor Homes.
``They wanted good people in public housing then,`` Bishop remembers. ``I had to have references, and they really checked me out. How much money did I make, did I take good care of my kids, and was I telling the truth about how many I had? I got calls from Memphis, which is where we had come from, and they said, `Edie, the housing authority called us and they wanted to know about your attitude, if you take off from work, if you drink.` ``
Her apartment is a well-kept space that tells much about the family that has lived there for 26 years. It is warmly decorated with snapshots of grandchildren, polished furniture with handmade slipcovers and a framed sketch of John and Robert Kennedy with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This is where Bishop has raised six children according to her own rigid set of rules. Inside, she reigns.
At her doorstep, order and chaos collide.
It happens in the evening when she is awakened by sounds of sexual intercourse from the darkened stairwell, just a few steps from her door. It happens in the morning when she hears a neighbor reprimand a young daughter for staying out all night and sees the girl grab a broomstick and angrily beat her mother on the head.
It has happened right in front of her apartment as she watched a man lie dying, blood oozing from his body and trickling toward her feet. He was robbed on his way home from the market. Killed, the police told her, for a loaf of bread.
Life is a matter of daily survival for Edie Bishop.
The CHA originally planned a more livable collection of low- and high-rise buildings spread over the 92 acres. It would have cost $22,000 per unit. But even a generous federal government had its limits. The U.S. Public Housing Authority refused to spend more than $17,000, and the result was the CHA`s more ``cost effective`` high-rise plan.
Robert Taylor died in 1957, five years before the development would be given his name.
During his 13-year tenure as CHA chairman, Taylor recognized that many who needed public housing in Chicago were poor blacks who had migrated from the South--poorly educated, unsophisticated and often in need of instruction so basic it dealt in personal hygiene or how to raise a child. He believed they needed more than just a place to live. Taylor`s most valued CHA employees were ``social directors`` whose work with tenants went far beyond collecting rent.
Large families have always lived in Taylor. Its population peaked in 1966 when it was home to 27,400 people, about 20,000 of them children and all of them poor and black.
Most moved into the buildings with little understanding of what Taylor`s high-rise environment would mean. Less than three years after Taylor opened, serious problems began.
|Beauty Turner gives "Ghetto Tours" of the former sites where the almost exclusively black Robert Taylor Homes were located; where an invasive species of Chicago were housed|
Though the United States Postal Service (USPS) has claimed neither rain, snow, nor sleet will disrupt the mail from being delievered, the hazardous conditions black people created in Robert Taylor Homes did [Postal Service Workers Adding Fear Of Gunfire To Their Motto:Fed Up By Sporadic Shootings, Mail Delivery Is Suspended To The Robert Taylor Homes, Triggering An Outcry And Bringing A Resumption Of Service, Chicago Tribune, 3-26-98]:
What should be a fairly straightforward task--providing mail, one of everyday life's necessities--doesn't get much trickier than this.
Delivery to six high-rises at the Robert Taylor Homes was briefly suspended Wednesday because the Postal Service had gotten fed up with sporadic shootings, including one this week that had heightened fears among letter carriers.
Postal officials pulled the plug on delivery to the buildings in one of the largest such cutoffs in the city's history, only to announce later in the day that service would resume Thursday.
That announcement came after postal authorities, police and Chicago Housing Authority officials talked about safety issues, including a plan in which community residents would escort letter carriers--just as Taylor-area residents escorted children to a local school earlier this year after an outburst of gunfire.
For the hundreds of families affected by the interruption in postal delivery, it was more than a matter of missing the latest batch of junk mail: Many rely on letter carriers to deliver timely notice of new welfare-to-work requirements to avoid being dropped from public aid rolls.
Resident leaders at Taylor contended that the Postal Service was operating under a double standard that discriminated against CHA residents. Tenant leader Mildred Dennis said a female postal carrier in the nearby Englewood neighborhood had been shot last year--and the local post office sent out a new carrier the next day without disrupting delivery.
"If you would deliver mail when a (carrier is shot), why not deliver here?" Dennis asked. "It's an insult to us. . . . We are still first-class citizens."No Mildred Dennis, you are not first-class citizens; it's difficult to even classify the community the black residents of the CHA Robert Taylor Homes created in Chicago a 'civilization'... in one short generation, the fragile conditions necessary for a prosperous city had been disrupted.
But as the New York Times reported, a solution to the anarchy blacks created in Robert Taylor Homes was found; tear them down [END OF A GHETTO: A special report.; Razing the Slums to Rescue the Residents, 9-6-98].
An invasive species ultimately destroyed one of America's greatest cities (Detroit), just as an invasive species threatens the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades. Luckily, far-thinking city planners realized the importance of removing the menace of public housing from Chicago; now, former black residents of this complex can only reminisce about what life was like there via 'ghetto tours' ['Ghetto' tour is journey into city's heart, 8-12-07]:
Beauty Turner's Ghetto Bus Tour begins in a field as peaceful as a prairie.
"This was a community just like yours," says Turner, her lilting voice passionate, even though she's given this talk before. "People stayed here, played here, lived here and died here."
She pauses. The cicadas whir. Cars throb past the place once known as the Robert Taylor Homes.
"There were 28 16-story public housing high-rises," she goes on, "with tens of thousands of low-income people on 99 1/2 acres of land."
A mirage of what has vanished shimmers in weeds, but on this sweaty Friday, the future is more obvious than the past.
Up and down State Street, good-looking condos are popping up, in Turner's words, "like jiffy popcorn in a microwave."
It's a mind-boggling conversion of a vast part of Chicago that for decades went barely seen by the white and the affluent. Now Turner wants people to come see it as surely as they'd go see the Bean.
"The truth tour," she says, and the truth as she sees it is that most of the people leaving won't get to come back to their old neighborhoods and many won't be better off in the new ones."Truth Tour"...?
No, Beauty Turner, the Robert Taylor Homes were not like any community white people had ever seen; it was a physical manifestation of the type of ecosystem the Florida Everglades will see if the Burmese Python is allowed to replicate beyond sustainable numbers and completely disrupt life in the area.
For only a few years removed from the razing of the Robert Taylor Homes, life has found a way to bounce back in the same plot of land where life was once repelled; to the point -- it was state policy to fund the conditions found in an area of Chicago were an invasive population was housed.
A community, a neighborhood is nothing more than the combined efforts of individuals to create the conditions where life either flourishes or flounders; introduce an invasive species into the mix, and the equilibrium, the balance of life shifts.
This is the great lesson of history -- for the ecosystem that has arisen in the Everglades or in that of Chicago.