The Everglades Burmese python might finally meet its match, if this agency gets its way

Burmese pythons might finally face a formidable foe in the Florida Everglades.

The South Florida Water Management District wants to double the number of its snake hunters and expand other aspects of its nearly three-year-old Python Elimination Program.

The proposal would cost $750,000, the Naples Daily News reported. That’s $525,000 more than the agency is spending annually now on removing the invasive species that has, on eye-catching occasion, devoured big Florida gators in their own environment.

Program director Mike Kirkland told the Daily News it will ask for 25 more paid hunters at Thursday’s board meeting at its headquarters in West Palm Beach. That would bring the total of snake hunters up to 50.

The program, Kirkland told the Daily News, “has been the most successful program in the history of the issue by a wide margin in terms of snakes caught and cost effectiveness.”

After its pilot program began in March 2017, district hunters have captured 2,486 pythons through Sept. 2. That figure represents 29,274 pounds worth of pythons captured.

SFWM python stats chart.png
The South Florida Water Management District’s Python Tracker graphic for its Python Elimination Program from March 2017 to September 2019. South Florida Water Management District

The group hit the 1,000 mark in May 2018, according to a Python Tracker chart on the South Florida Water Management District’s website.

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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