Giant snails are invading the Miami-Dade area and as harmless as they look and as slow at they are, these Giant African Land Snails are destructive creatures. Approximately 128,000 of the giant snails have been destroyed in the two years since these creatures have found their way to Florida, according to NPR News on Aug. 30.
The snail invasion was detected back in 2011, scientist believe that the hundreds of thousands of the giant land snails started with just one man who smuggled just of few of the creatures into Florida for religious purposes. Somehow that small grouping of personally owned giant snails grew into a full blow-out invasion. The land snails eat buildings, the plaster and stucco is something they go after as a nutrient to help grow their shells.
The giant snails, which are not native to Florida, are eating about 500 different species of plant life and they can spread a parasite that causes a form of meningitis. The snails had to go and the only way for the people that hunt snails can do this is with the help of man's best friend.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam is confident that they will win the fight now that the "canine detector teams" are finding hundreds of snails in a week. This year the teams are finding less snails than last year, indicating the snail hunting is working and they are cleaning out the population faster than its growing.
"While it's too soon to declare victory, "we are confident that we will win this fight," Putnam said.
The canine detector teams, which are made up of specially trained Labrador Retrievers, are able to sniff out snails in places that are tough for humans to search. The snails are called GALS, which is short for the Giant African Land Snails, were believed used for a traditional African religion.
Just a few were smuggled in, but apparently reproduction of these creatures are not done at a snail's pace. Anyway, the man who first brought in the giant snails to Florida reportedly convinced some of his religious followers to drink the snails' juices. When they obliged, they became violently ill.