The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 16, 2013

In the Everglades, hunters help check a slithery invader

MIAMI — As they bounced into the Everglades in a beat-up truck, Ruben Ramirez and George Brana overflowed with confidence.

They were in the final days of Florida's Python Challenge and had already bagged 18 of the snakes, more than one-third of the 50 or so killed during the month-long hunt.

"You're looking at the winners right here," said Ramirez, 40, pointing to his chest. "We're kicking butt," said Brana, 44.

More than 1,500 people had signed up for the state-sponsored event, the first ever to allow anyone in the nation to hunt, regardless of whether they were licensed. And Brana and Ramirez were out to bag at least one more python, for a little insurance.

They sounded more cocky than worried. Most of their competitors were a bunch of novices — "yahoos," they called them — who waded into the swamp at the start of the event and quickly got out after experiencing the back-breaking work of hunting pythons for hours a day under a hot sun in the Florida muck.

When state wildlife officials hand out the prizes Saturday morning for the biggest and most pythons caught, Brana and Ramirez boasted, the smart money is on them, two Cuban-Americans who have caught pythons and other snakes by hand since they were kids.

Whether the state was a big winner is hard to say. Estimates put the Everglades's python population at 100,000 at the most, so 50 dead snakes seems like a paltry harvest.

But supporters said that is a lot of hungry mouths removed from the swamp, where mammals have disappeared by the hundreds since the python became established.

Researchers who counted Everglades National Park mammals found that 99 percent of raccoons had vanished, along with the same amount of opossums and 88 percent of bobcats, according to a study released last year. Marsh rabbits, cottontails and foxes couldn't be found.

Text Only
News
  • crash18.jpg Snyder County collision injures driver, kills two horses

    PORT TREVORTON — A car struck two horses on a rural road in Snyder County Thursday afternoon, injuring the driver and resulting in the death of the horses.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strike17.jpg Danville teachers hit picket lines

    DANVILLE - It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snook suspension now a mystery

    MIDDLEBURG — Acting Midd-West Superintendent Daphne Snook is confused about what the school board is alleging she did that led to her suspension without pay, saying she hasn’t received anything in writing. “Nothing I have been told by the board in any way makes me believe that I violated district policy or the law,” Snook said by email Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Danville teacher strike starts today

    DANVILLE — Nearly four hours of negotiations could not prevent the first teacher strike at Danville in decades.

    April 17, 2014

  • Ruling on torture could save Miranda Barbour's life

    SUNBURY — An attorney for homicide suspect Miranda Barbour filed a motion Wednesday in Northumberland County Court asking a judge to rule that murder victim Troy LaFerrara was not tortured before being killed.

    April 16, 2014

  • Investigation: Weapon used in attack on county prison officers

    SUNBURY — A “homemade metal weapon” was used in the attack against three corrections officers at the Northumberland County Prison on Friday, according to prison officials.

    April 16, 2014

  • Milton woman charged with endangering child

    MILTON — A Milton mom faces two misdemeanors after investigators said her 1-year-old suffered first- and second-degree burns while in her care and she failed to seek medical attention.

    April 16, 2014

  • Sunbury man critically injured in SUV crash

    SUNBURY — A driver was injured Tuesday night when his SUV careened off Mile Hill Road and down a steep 20-foot embankment, knocking over trees until it crashed and twisted around a large tree trunk.

    April 16, 2014

  • SUN Home Health and Geisinger ink merger plan

    NORTHUMBERLAND — Geisinger Community Health Services and SUN Home Health and Hospice announced today the signing of a comprehensive integration agreement by which SUN Home Health & Hospice will become part of the Geisinger health system.

    April 16, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    WASHINGTON — Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.

    April 16, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Poll

Are you among those who will be completing and mailing your tax forms today?

Yes
No - Already Filed
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.