“Got Um’! Lionfish Speared” by MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife

If there is one thing Floridians are good at, it is turning their native animals into non-native animal poop. No one can turn a native critter into poop quite like the Floridians can.

Take all the foxes, bobcats, rabbits, possums, squirrels, beavers bobcats, hogs and racoons in the Everglades for example. Most of them used to not be snake poop, but thanks to the efforts of a small but determined group of Florida citizens, now ninety-five percent of them are.

While the residents of the other forty-nine states passed on the giant snake import option, the Floridians forged right ahead. They released constrictors into the swamps, woods and waterways. With no natural predators, constrictor begat constrictor and, faster than you can say “invasive species,” there were literally hundreds of thousands of giant snakes crawling around the Everglades.

The native Florida critters don’t know a python from their left ear, which makes them easy for the snakes to catch. That’s why for the past twenty years the big snake digestive tract tour is the most popular ride in the Everglades. The native birds are being swallowed up, too, and the really big pythons are choking down those pesky old deer, hogs and even full grown alligators.

Of course most of us would rest on our laurels after nearly wiping out an entire eco-system, but not the Floridians. Not a bunch of laurel sitters those Floridians. They got to noticing most of their flowers, fruits and vegetables were not being eaten by lizards. What’s more, there was little if any lizard poop on their sidewalks and yards. Why you could practically step in any direction you wanted without landing in lizard leavings. Then there was the matter of their sea walls that keep flood waters at bay. Not a one of them was caving in as a result of lizard burrows.

Something had to be done.

“I know,” said an enterprising Floridian while he was releasing Psycho, his twelve foot African rock python, into a Florida wilderness zone only a few miles from a kindergarten. “Let’s bring in a bunch of iguanas.”

And, man, did they ever.

Thousands and thousands of iguanas now call Florida home and, enterprising little buggers that they are, not only have they pooped on just about everything, but the sea walls are caving in nicely. Unsightly flower beds are being eradicated at unprecedented levels and the fruit in the orchards is disappearing by the bushel load down their gullets. There are still plenty of vegetables so long as you don’t mind eating whatever an iguana left behind.

And the Floridians still refused to sit back on their laurels. Laurel sitting is something the Floridian invasive species importers simply don’t do. This time, they looked to the sea and said “Lionfish.”

They let a few go and bade them, “Be fruitful and multiply and multiply and multiply.”

Multiply they did. The pythons and iguanas had nothing on the lionfish. Neither would the Everglades rabbits if there were any left. Now there are zillions and zillions of lionfish. Florida’s coastal waters are polluted with them. What the waters aren’t polluted with is the native Florida fish species the lionfish are eating into oblivion. It is kind of the same deal as the snakes and the mammals. The native fish don’t know how to evade lionfish, so they get hoovered up by them. This includes the babies of the large fish.

Think of the money sports fishermen will save on the wear and tear of tackle when there are no large fish stressing their gear anymore. I am sure the Floridians are delighted.

Of course, not all is sunshine in the sunshine state. Floridians have made pretty good headway with walking catfish and snakeheads, but both efforts need work. Then there is the woeful lack of Asian carp in their rivers. Then their is their secret shame of Arizona leading them in numbers of jaguars. A bunch of jaguars running around the Everglades would probably make up for the five percent of critters the snakes don’t eat.

And now I hear people aren’t spotting the Florida skunk ape as often as they used to. It is a little worrisome. I say we all drop what we are doing, drive to Florida and start combing the swamps for a skunk-ape-shaped mound of python poop.