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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

South Florida water managers renew paid python hunter program

Dusty “Wildman” Crum caught this 16-foot-10-inch Burmese python in the South Florida Water Management District’s experimental python hunt. The snake had 73 eggs.

Southwest Florida Water Management District

Dusty “Wildman” Crum caught this 16-foot-10-inch Burmese python in the South Florida Water Management District’s experimental python hunt. The snake had 73 eggs.

Impressed by the success of their pilot program, the South Florida Water Management District voted to keep on employing a team of paid python hunters to track down the big snakes that invaded the Everglades, according to the Miami Herald.

The water agency bosses were delighted that the 25 hunters who were part of the pilot program bagged 158 snakes and about 2,000 eggs before it ended June 1, and wanted it to continue. That 158, incidentally, is more than any other organized hunt -- the state's "Python Challenge" in 2013 nabbed just 68, and the one last year got 106 (an amount that could be replaced by a single clutch of eggs from one female).

As part of the extension, 10 additional hunters will be hired to covere new territory, but the pay will stay the same: $8.10 an hour and a sliding scale bounty based on the size of the snake. One hunter who made out well from the bounty caught a snake that was nearly 17 feet long.

The state wants to get rid of the ginormous invasive snake because wherever they show up, the smaller mammals all soon vanish -- raccoons, foxes, rabbiits, you name it. They also eat a lot of deer and even alligators (although the gators often fight back).

Meanwhile the Florida Fish and Wildfire Conservation Commission is offering a T-shirt and other prizes to any non-professionals who happen to catch a python. So keep your eyes peeled, Florida!

[Last modified: Thursday, June 8, 2017 3:41pm]

    

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