Everglades National Park Everglades National Park
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Everglades National Park // Est. December 6, 1947
TOPIC: Wildlife Conservation
PROJECT: Save the Gators
PURPOSE: Sales from the Everglades Collection support the wildlife conservation efforts through the BioCorps internship program. Through this program students work alongside park scientists to assist with native species monitoring programs as well as trapping, tracking and removal of non-native species such the invasive Argentine black and white tegu and Burmese python. The BioCorps program provides a cost-effective means to staff wildlife conservation programs within the park while also providing professional training for biology graduates who often transition to natural resource positions with Everglades National Park and beyond!
PARTNER: South Florida National Parks Trust
Project Update August 21, 2017
Thanks to the support of donors like Parks Project LLC, the South Florida National Trust (SFNPT) renewed its support of the Everglades National Park BioCorps Internship program for 2017. The BioCorp program provides recent biology graduates hands-on research experience that supplements ongoing natural resource programs in Everglades National Park. Interns provide support for high priority wildlife projects, including invasive reptile management and research, sea turtle nest monitoring, Roseate Spoonbill nest distribution studies, freshwater aquatic ecology monitoring, and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow research. The contribution BioCorps interns provide to these projects is crucial, as many of them would be unfeasible without their assistance.
The Everglades BioCorps internship program has had a wonderful first half of 2017. There are currently ten BioCorps interns working on a range of projects in the park, including two interns that focus on trapping and removing the invasive Argentine black and white tegu. Tegus are invasive reptiles that first appeared in South Florida in 2002 and have scientists concerned that they could be the new Burmese python. Posing a significant threat to native species, tegus have been documented eating eggs from alligator, crocodile, and bird nests. With major assistance from BioCorps interns, intense trapping and removal efforts have been conducted along the border of Everglades in an effort to limit their spread into the national park.
In 2016, BioCorps interns Katie Sykes, Noah VanEe and Charlie Calafiore helped expand the tegu trapping project by increasing the number of traps and modifying them to trap hatchlings. This project was a major success and has improved trapping efforts as most hatchlings were able to escape the earlier traps. 2017 interns, Frances Cole and Sara Cheatham, continued this intensive tegu trapping project. With an average of four trapping days conducted per week, their efforts have resulted in 85+ trapped tegus this year. One of which was the first black and white tegu trapped within ENP’s borders in several years.
Controlling invasive species is an uphill battle that requires significant time, energy, and resources. Everglades National Park has been able to conduct the time and labor intensive trapping programs thanks to the support of BioCorps interns. While there is still much work to be done there are signs that trapping efforts are helping to control the number of tegus in South Florida. You can read about the status of large scale tegu management here http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article147116114.html It is unclear what the long term impact of this invasive species will be, but with continued support and effort from programs like these, we can work to reduce the full spread and impact tegus would cause to Everglades wildlife if left unchecked.