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Posted: Friday, May 25, 2018 12:45 am

Python Elimination Program reaches milestone in 15 months

   The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board's Python Elimination Program has

eliminated 1,000 Burmese pythons, protecting countless native species from being ravaged by the invasive, apex predator.

   The milestone snake was eliminated this past weekend by python hunter Brian Hargrove.

   "The success of this program was made possible through a dedicated team approach," said SFWMD

scientist Mike Kirkland, project manager for the Python Elimination Program. "Staff implemented, hunters executed and our state leadership, particularly Gov. Rick Scott, supported a program that fights for the Everglades every day."

   A team of professional python hunters were selected from more than 1,000 applicants and given access to District-owned lands in Miami-Dade County for the pilot phase and later in Broward, Collier and Palm Beach counties as the program expanded.

   These independent contractors are paid to hunt in the Everglades and humanely euthanize each python they catch in the field according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines. Depending on the size of the snake presented, hunters can also receive additional payments of $50 for pythons measuring up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot measured beyond 4 feet. An additional $200 is awarded for elimination of python nests with eggs.

The invasive Burmese python, which breeds and multiplies quickly and has no natural predator in the Everglades ecosystem, has decimated native populations of wildlife. The more that can be eliminated, especially females and their eggs, the better chance future generations of native wildlife will have to thrive in the Everglades ecosystem that Floridians have invested billions of dollars to restore.

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