Aug. 17, 2017
SFWMD Python Program - 500 Snakes Eliminated
Milestone is latest accomplishment of SFWMD Governing Board program that eliminates Burmese pythons and eggs to protect native Everglades wildlife
Python Hunter Jason Leon (right) poses with the 7-foot python he killed and fellow Python Hunter Dustin "Wildman" Crum. Leon's kill was the 500th snake eradicated through the South Florida Water Management District's Python Elimination Program. Click on the image for a larger version.
West Palm Beach, FL
- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board's innovative Python Elimination Program hit a major milestone today, with hunters killing their 500th Burmese python in less than five months.
"The speed with which hunters are finding and eliminating these destructive snakes showcases not only their dedication to the effort, but also the enormity of this invasive predator problem in the Everglades," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "Every one of these 500 snakes killed
helps ensure the lives of hundreds of native species essential to the Everglades ecosystem."
Python Hunter Jason Leon, of Miami, killed the 500th snake, a 7-foot foot python caught around 5 a.m. today. Earlier this month Leon also caught one of the largest snakes, measuring in at 14 feet and 9 inches. Hunter Dustin "Wildman" Crum holds the record for the largest snake killed with a 16-foot-10-inch python. Hunter Michael Valcarce has the most pythons killed, with 52 snakes.
In total, the snakes eliminated through this program would stretch more than 3,300 feet in length and weigh in at more than three tons. Elected officials and celebrities ranging from U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey have taken part in the hunts as well, bringing international awareness to the issue of invasive pythons and the District's efforts to eradicate them.
About the Program
The program began on March 25, 2017 when
professional python hunters were selected and given access to District-owned lands in Miami-Dade County for the pilot phase and later in Broward and Collier counties as the program expanded. 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 payments of $50 for pythons measuring up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot measured above 4 feet. An additional $200 is given for each eliminated python nest with eggs.
The invasive Burmese python, which breeds and multiplies quickly and has no challenger or predator in the Everglades ecosystem, has decimated native populations of wildlife. The more of these snakes that can be eliminated, especially the females and their eggs, the better chance future generations of native wildlife can have to thrive in the Everglades ecosystem which Floridians have invested billions of dollars to restore.