Latest News

Florida python hunters hit new milestone: two miles of snakes

Python hunter Brian Hargrove, right, remains the top python hunter at the South Florida Water Management District, which this week tallied more than 1,700 snakes bagged.
Python hunter Brian Hargrove, right, remains the top python hunter at the South Florida Water Management District, which this week tallied more than 1,700 snakes bagged. AP

Florida’s efforts to round up invasive Burmese pythons has hit a new milestone: more than 1,700 snakes bagged, or enough to make a two-mile long python skin belt.

On a scale, the snake booty comes in at 10 tons.

The South Florida Water Management District, which oversees the hunt, announced the numbers on Friday, noting the total comes out to three snakes a day captured on state lands since March 2017. The number does not include snakes caught in the epicenter of the invasion in Everglades National Park, where snake hunting was allowed for the first time earlier this year.

dusty crum python hunter.JPG
Python hunter Dusty Crum carries a python caught in the Florida Everglades before having it weighed and measured in May. Wilfredo Lee AP

“This program continues to be proven successful over time because of each and every dedicated member of the team,” project manager Mike Kirkland said in a statement, commending “the python hunters who work long nights to rid the Everglades of this snake.”

The district’s top hunter is Miami native Brian Hargrove, who has snagged 235 snakes and in May was feted for catching the program’s 1,000th python.

Florida has been battling the invasive snakes for at least a decade, when district maintenance worker Bob Hill was first called to deal with a snake slithering along the L-67 canal. Researchers believe the snakes were released into the marshes by frustrated pet owners or escaped a Miami-Dade breeding facility, or both, in the 1980s and ‘90s. They are now considered the Everglades top predator, and most voracious, capable of devouring deer and wading birds and blamed for nearly wiping out the population of small mammals in Everglades National Park.

The district’s snake team is made up of about 25 certified hunters picked from a pool of a thousand applicants. Hunters are paid $8.25 an hour, plus about $50 for snakes up to four feet long and $25 for each extra foot. Egg-bearing females pay out a $200 bonus.

Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich
  Comments