Sunday 4 April 2010

Controversy in USA Cryptozoology?

U.S. Department of Interior turns to Cryptozoology

The study that seeks to prove the existence of unsubstantiated myths such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and now the twenty foot King Cobra/Giant Constrictor Hybrid threat is known as Cryptozoology. The mostly highly regarded scientific work done by the United States Geological Survey, frequently commissions scientist Dr. Gordon Rodda, PHD. Rodda is in it up to his head in suggesting a new "monster" threat may lurk in the Everglades. Monster Quest is a television program that airs on the History Channel. This show is a mix of the real and the wildest of imagined creatures that live only in the recesses of the minds of TV producers, all for the sake of ratings and sensationalizing the nonexistent. The show starts out with Gordon Rodda declaring that "some of the worst invasive species are often hybrids." For balance Dr. Whit Gibbons gives brief comments, "I think the biggest misconception that most people have is that snakes are out to get them... "that they care about people and thats completely false." This short foray into reality is exited in favor of what creates ratings for TV and not so coincidentally, grant money for the academic community. Enter Dr. Gordon Rodda with a vengeance.

Dr. Gordon Rodda is the preferred go-to-guy for the United States Geological Survey, which is trusted with generating the science upon which the United States Fish and Wildlife Service bases their recommendations for policy that may regulate the currently unencumbered freedom to keep and breed some of the most common pets kept by Americans today; Reptiles. So the association of Rodda, with what amounts to a tabloid or dime store pulp fiction TV show, is surprising. Or is it? Around twenty minutes into the show, Rodda declares as fact, "there are about ten to twelve species of the genus python. In Florida they do occur together. Because they are so closely related, and because in captivity they will breed together, producing offspring gives reason to be concerned about hybridization occurring." This makes for great comic book TV. You use a few facts and then lead the masses to believe a fallacy. The fact is that a number of captive breedings of the giant constrictors have been accomplished. The offspring in every case have never reproduced and are unhealthy animals that do not thrive even in the lap of luxury of a captive environment. Rodda knows this and has access to this data. If a cross of species did happen to occur in the wild, the resultant sterile offspring would be drive thru window meals for the millions of other critters that we scarf down these weak offspring as soon as they venture out of the egg, if not before. Again, Rodda knows this and has access to this data. The alluded to super Python will never happen. However, the fear that is fed by the fictitious suggestions made by Rodda work precisely to serve both the wishes of the show's producers AND the animal rights extremists Rodda's 'reports' serve.

The fact is, there is an established population of the South East Asian Burmese Pythons in the Everglades. The only suitable habitat for these large tropical snakes in the United States is in the Everglades. This is proven by the legitimate scientific peer reviewed paper "Claims of Potential Expansion throughout the U.S. by Invasive Python Species Are Contradicted by Ecological Niche Models" written by R. Alexander Pyron, Frank T. Burbrink, Timothy J. Guiher in 2009. This paper was published shortly after the carefully crafted 'report' commissioned by the USGS, and written by Rodda et al. Rodda's second paper on this topic, "Giant Constrictors: Biological and Management Profiles and an Establishment Risk Assessment for Nine Large Species of Pythons, Anacondas, and the Boa Constrictor". Both 'papers' written by Rodda regarding the Burmese Pythons and other Constrictors in the Everglades have been soundly debunked and criticized. A letter signed by twelve of the world's leading Reptile Researchers and Educators was introduced in the Senate record stating, "Additionally, we encourage the Committee to review this document not as an authoritative scientific publication, but rather as a report currently drafted to support a predetermined policy." The twelve do something that is very unusual in the scientific community, and that is to accuse Rodda of having a predetermined outcome and not having done any research at all. Like the butcher putting his thumb on the scale. Still the USGS and the USFWS stand by Rodda's masterpieces which makes you wonder, who is pulling the strings in those governmental offices. The light of truth can be very bright indeed. The fact is that developed and or populated areas of South Florida do not offer the conditions that make it possible for a 100 lb. snake to survive undetected. The Everglades offers that protection directly because of the lack of human activity and development. These facts are irrelevant to Rodda who said during the Season Premiere of Monster Quest 2010, "The problem with the Burmese python in south Florida is new in the sense that the population rocketed off... uh became very numerous only quite recently. They were just at the very southern tip but then they were a little farther north and a littler further north and now they are north of Okeechobee and were getting reports up near Tampa. So the evidence is that they are spreading north." The truth again gets in Roddas way but does not deter him. A number of Python captures have been proven to be deliberate releases of animals by irresponsible individuals north of the Everglades such as an incident in Lakeland FL during the summer of 2010. These captures are scores of miles apart an in no way represent a real expansion north. Other deliberate releases of animals have occurred at critical times by animal rights extremist groups to effect legislation to limit US citizen's rights to keep and breed Reptiles as well as other Exotic animals. Cobra Release in North Carolina. The 'reports' written by Gordon Rodda have been right up the Animal Rights Extremist group's alley. He is one of the cornerstone pieces of the puzzle that seek to bring about the animal rights agenda to take people's right to own and care for the animals they love.

The most outrageous inference is the possibly of a King Cobra and a Python Hybrid. The narrator says, "Snakes that would never meet in their natural habitat, now intermingle in Florida. This causes some to fear a monster hybrid. A snake with the crushing strength of a constrictor, and the deadly venom of a cobra." Another of the other equally qualified experts on the Monster Quest program said, "there are some scientist that are terrified that they are going to get together they're going to reproduce and provide some kind of monster snake." This is an absolute fabrication! This is a classic plant the seed of fear tactic used to illicit the knee jerk reaction from folks who sometimes unfortunately react exactly that way. Everyone involved in this program has a goal in mind, with the willing assistance of the USGS chosen scientist, Dr. Gordon Rodda. One seeks ratings, and the other does whatever it takes for an ideological bent whose character is unfettered by fact or the truth.Stay tuned. No doubt next Rodda and Monster Quest will be delving into the likely existence of Medusa and her likely attempt to reproduce with unwitting victims between Donnie Osmond Shows in Branson alleys, when the moon is full.



Tg Powell said...

Good point Tab. I have witnessed, first hand, shedded snake skins in the Everglades over 12 feet in length. The many hurricanes that ravaged us here in Florida have destroyed many reptilian sanctuary's and the inhabitants escaped into the wild. This year, we have had a record cold winter. This, according to wildlife management, has had a HUGE impact on the snake population. They just couldn't survive the cold. But, you know as well as I do, not every snake was killed. So we will continue to monitor them. Speaking of monitoring....the Monitor Lizard is becoming the next largest threat. They are multiplying at alarming rates and seem to be able to handle the colder weather better than the snakes. I will keep you informed.


Tg Powell said...

Tabitca said...

Thanks for the comments and the link TG.