Sept. 12, 2019

At Direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, SFWMD Governing Board Expands  Python Elimination Program
In partnership with  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 
and National Park Service, SFWMD expands reach of python program

Click on the image to visit SFWMD's Python Elimination Program website.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  - The program that has already eliminated more than 2,500 invasive pythons from Florida's Everglades is getting bigger thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis and today's vote by the  South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board.

"This is for all of us who love the Everglades. We're putting our money where our mouth is and taking the fight to these invasive pythons, now in a bigger way and across much more habitat," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss. "Gov. DeSantis loves the Everglades and directed us to leave no stone unturned to eradicate this predator that threatens native Everglades species. That is exactly what we are going to do with our partners at FWC and Everglades National Park."

The Governing Board voted to double the number of hunters in its Python Elimination Program, first started in March of 2017 and has removed more than 2,540 snakes so far. The Governing Board also voted to triple the funding for this critical program. 

The program pays trained python contractors an hourly wage and a bounty based on the size of snakes to find and remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades. Burmese pythons are an invasive predator not 
Click on the image to see an infographic about the impact of the Burmese python on native Everglades wildlife.
native to South Florida that have become a severe threat to Florida's native ecosystems. Pythons prey heavily on Florida wildlife, like rabbits and birds, and directly compete for food with native predators such as bobcats and Florida panthers. The 2,500th snake eliminated by the program was caught just recently by Michael Kimmel.

The Governing Board also authorized SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett to enter into an agreement with federal agencies and other state agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that will allow District python hunters to access more state  and federal lands in South Florida to hunt pythons. At today's meeting, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton and Everglades National Park Deputy Superintendent Justin Unger joined SFWMD Land Resources Bureau Chief Rory Feeney in highlighting how the agencies are going to work more closely together on python removal. FWC also has a python program that has removed 839 snakes.

"This is not individual agencies or entities with individual programs to remove pythons. This is one program with a diversified portfolio of assets and stakeholders to accomplish one mission, " said Eric Sutton Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The Governing Board also authorized the District to contract with the University of Florida to perform scientific work to aid the python removal effort. The work would potentially include reptile monitoring and assessments of the impact of removal efforts on the python population. 

Gov. DeSantis last month directed SFWMD to work with other state agencies to expand its program to better combat the threat posed by Burmese pythons. The District has committed to implementing a number of steps to follow DeSantis' directive and expand the program. Additional efforts include increasing the number of professional contracted hunters; working with FWC to host a joint Annual Python Challenge event to hunt the snakes; developing agreements with local governments for hunters to access lands they own in order to hunt snakes; and, using new other promising methods and other tried and true methods such as trained dogs to hunt pythons.

For more updates on SFWMD's work:
Media Contact: 
Randy Smith |    |  Office: 561-682-6197  |  Cell: 561-389-3386
The South Florida Water Management District  is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts. Our mission is to safeguard and restore South Florida's water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding, and meet the region's water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders.

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