Refuge receives python skin donation
Mike Kirkland, manager of the Python Elimination Program for the South Florida Water Management District, presented J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Acting Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea with the skin from a 90-pound, 15-foot 2-inch Burmese python – one of the first captured in the bounty hunting program – during his recent python presentation at the refuge. Kirkland explained: The skin that I gifted the refuge is very special to me because it marks the beginning of the program that has forever changed my life. My wife, Sarah, and I are avid birders and have been fans of ‘Ding’ Darling long before my involvement with python management. The two times that I’ve been invited to speak there were both great honors for me, and I have never received such a warm welcome any time or anywhere before than I did by you and your staff. For the important work ‘Ding’ does in preserving valuable habitat for our native wildlife, for the great support of your staff and patrons for our program, for the incredible kindness you’ve shown, and as a reminder to the public of the significant threat that invasive pythons pose to South Florida’s natural environment, I have donated this item and would be very proud to have it displayed at your nature center.