Florida’s Python Elimination Program Removes 1,000 Snakes In 15 Months
May 23, 2018
The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board’s Python Elimination Program, which launched with an initial pilot program from March to June 2017 and has since been continued, has helped to remove 1,000 Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) from the Everglades in its 15 months in existence. In the first five months, the program’s 25 hunters eliminated 500 pythons.
The Burmese python has gained a foothold in the Everglades.
On May 22, snake number 1,000, an 11-foot-2-inch-long (3-meter-long) male snake was euthanized. It was captured May 18 by Brian Hargrove, who has captured more than 110 of the invasive predators since the inception of the program.
“We’ve removed potentially tens of thousands, if you consider their reproductive abilities,” Mike Kirkland, who manages the hunt for the water management district told the AP.
“These animals are survivors,” Kirkland told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "They can go a year without eating, or they can eat every week. The more they eat, the bigger they get."
District-owned lands were opened up to selected professional python hunters initially in Miami-Dade County. The hunt was later expanded to Broward and Collier counties. The hunters were paid $8.10 an hour to hunt in the Everglades. The district also offered cash incentives based on the size of the snake as well as any python nests the hunters came across and eliminated.
The Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world and is native to Southeast Asia. It can grow up to 20 feet and reach a weight of more than 300 pounds, though most top out around 13 to 14 feet and weigh around 130 pounds. Captive bred specimens have a mostly docile disposition, so much so that they are often called the gentle giants of the large constricting snakes.