Burmese python

Florida Doubling Down On Killing Invasive Burmese Pythons

Sep 13, 2019

The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board agreed Thursday to double its number of hunters who are trying to eradicate invasive Burmese pythons.

Big Cypress National Preserve

In the Florida Everglades, a team of invasive species researchers got more than it bargained for – a 17-foot-long python, plus 73 developing python eggs.

On Friday, Big Cypress National Preserve announced in a post to Facebook that its team of researchers had discovered the largest python ever to be removed from the swamp.

The pregnant female weighed 140 pounds, though presumably some of that was egg weight.

Officials say a Florida trapper has captured a record-setting python as part of a program to remove the invasive species from the Everglades.

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION

The U.S. Geological Survey, USGS, is collecting DNA to track a new snake hybrid in the Everglades.

Florida's lieutenant governor joined hunters paid by the state to stalk and shoot invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Payrolled python hunters. They’re the latest story on the South Florida python beat, and they’re drawing national and international media attention, too.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Artist Jenna Efrein loves the Everglades. Since moving to South Florida, she's spent a lot of time exploring the ecosystem and learning about the challenges it faces. That passion -- and 10 years of gymnastics experience -- have shaped an installation of her work on display now at the Wynwood Building.

Everglades NPS via Flickr

A hidden military base. Python catchers from India. Galápagos tortoises and a world-renowned herpetologist. It sounds like an Indiana Jones movie.

But it's all tied to a mystery of the Everglades -- one that will be on display during an event in Homestead on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Dansar / flickr

Burmese pythons, lionfish, african land snails -- these are just a few of the invasive species considered threats to Florida ecosystems. And the fact that you really can't snuggle with serpent, a venomous fish or a disease-carrying mollusk perhaps makes them easier to eradicate.

But what does Florida do about a potential invader that's a little on the cute side?

Officials say so far, 17 Burmese pythons have been caught during the hunt for the invasive species in Florida's wetlands.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the tally Tuesday.

DANIEL BOCK / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Florida wildlife officials are hosting another snake hunt, but they don't want to call it a hunt. It's the Python Challenge. It's not likely to put much of a dent on the growing population of the invasive species, but that doesn't mean the event will be a failure.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

When exotic pets get too big, noisy or hungry to handle, their owners sometimes feel they have no choice but to release them into the wild.  

That’s the main reason Burmese pythons and other big snakes got a foothold in the Everglades, where they're wreaking havoc on native ecosystems.  But help is on the way for South Florida's overwhelmed exotic pet owners.

nps.gov

If you’re an outdoorsy type, Florida wildlife officials have a job for you.

But there’s a catch. Actually, several catches – all with very sharp teeth.

In the United States, the only place you’ll find an American crocodile in the wild is South Florida. It used to be an endangered species.

But not anymore.

Carla Dove smiles as she tears open a small, flat cardboard box. She is sitting at a lab bench in her office at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

"It's kind of like Christmas for me because I never know what's going to be in the packages," she says.

Inside the box are a bunch of sealed sandwich-size bags. Dove counts the bags.

"Eight samples today," she notes. Each sample consists of grayish pieces of feathers, and sometimes bones, all from inside the stomachs and intestines of Burmese pythons.

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