June 16, 2017
SFWMD Python Elimination Program Grows Bigger And More Aggressive With Broward and Collier Counties Expansion
Renewed Governing Board program, which eliminated 158 snakes in pilot phase, will begin phase II on Saturday, June 17
|Python Hunter Dustin Crum, of Myakka City, poses with the one of the Burmese pythons he eliminated. Crum also caught the longest snake caught as part of the SFWMD Python Elimination Program's pilot phase. The SFWMD Governing Board renewed the program and expanded it to Broward and Collier counties.
West Palm Beach, FL
- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Python Hunters will be back on the prowl for snakes starting tomorrow, June 17, and their hunting grounds are widening. The SFWMD Governing Board last week renewed the Python Elimination Program after the pilot phase eliminated 158 snakes in a little over two months.
The Governing Board has also expanded the area where python hunters are allowed access to now include Broward and Collier counties. Previously hunting was only allowed in Miami-Dade County.
Having experienced the program firsthand by participating in a live hunt, I cannot say enough about the tremendous work of these dedicated professionals to rid the Everglades of this destructive python threat,
" said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "Eliminating one snake from the Everglades is much more than a single kill. It's the prevention of 40 to 50 more snakes by destroying a large female carrying 40 to 50 eggs; and, it's the countless number of native Florida animals spared from the jaws of these killing-machines."
The Python Elimination Program will restart tomorrow and continue through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30 or until the remaining $125,000 left over from the pilot phase has been expended.
The Python Elimination Program's pilot phase, which ended
June 1, paid out more than $25,000 in bounties and about $24,000 in hourly wages for about 3,000 hours the hunters spent seeking and eliminating the snakes.
In total, the snakes eliminated by the program so far would stretch more than
1,368 feet in length, almost to the top of the Empire State Building. The total weight of all the snakes eliminated so far is about 3,725 pounds, almost two tons.
||Click graphic for larger image
Michael Valcare, a Miami resident with extensive hunting experience who said he wanted to participate in the python hunt to help the environment, led all hunters with 34 snakes eliminated in the pilot phase. Dustin "Wildman" Crum, an orchid farmer from Myakka City, has captured the biggest snake so far at 16 feet 10 inches.
About the Program
The program began on March 25, when
25 professional python hunters were selected from the 1,000 who applied and given access to District-owned lands. Some of the hunters selected have changed for the second phase of the program. These independent contractors are paid $8.10 per hour, up to eight hours daily, to hunt in the Everglades. Depending on the size of the snake presented, they can also receive additional payment of $50 for pythons measuring up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot measured above 4 feet. An additional $200 will be given for each eliminated python nest with eggs.