Florida’s War On Pythons: Gov. Calls For Snake Hunters

Python hunter Jason Leon (right) set a record for the longest snake caught as part of SFWMD’s Python Elimination Program with this 17-foot-1-inch Burmese python that he brought to the District’s Homestead Field Station on Dec. 4, 2017. Leon also holds the state record with an 18-foot-8-inch python he caught in 2013. South Florida Water Management District, CC BY-ND 2.0

“Under the governor’s leadership, we’re going to make a difference. And we’re going to increase the pressure on a snake that is actually destroying all of our natural food chain.” – Ron Bergeron, South Florida Water Management District

by David Fleshler, Aug 8, 2019

Sun Sentinel – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced additional steps to fight Burmese pythons, the giant snakes that have wiped out much of the mammal population of the Everglades.

The governor, speaking at a news conference at Everglades Holiday Park in western Broward County, said state resources to fight the snakes would be doubled in the coming year.

DeSantis said the state has worked out a plan with the federal government to allow hunters greater access to Big Cypress National Preserve in the western Everglades. He said state agencies have agreed on a plan to fight the pythons in state parks and are working with local governments to remove them from locally owned land. And he said there will be annual Python Challenge contests to catch the most pythons. The governor said:

“They’re not native to this area and they’re an incredibly invasive species. As these pythons have permeated through, they’ve really disrupted the natural food chain balance, they’ve threatened endangered species, they’ve decimated other animal populations. They can eat small alligators even. So they’ve been multiplying. We’ve been advancing python management policies for several years. There’s been some success but we need to do more, and so we are here to announce some of the next steps we are taking.”

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Native to southern Asia, Burmese pythons that arrived in Florida through the exotic pet industry have colonized the Everglades, taking a huge toll on native mammals.

Mammals such as raccoons, opossums and marsh rabbits have been wiped out of much of the Everglades. The huge snakes also kill and consume full-size deer. They can reach lengths of 26 feet, although the average caught in Florida is 8 to 10 feet, according to the state wildlife commission.

After the news conference, the governor’s office put out a news release with quotes from other state officials praising the program.

“We are grateful to Governor DeSantis for his bold leadership on this issue,” said Eric Sutton, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“I’m happy to join Governor DeSantis in celebrating another bold action for Florida’s environment,” said Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection … Read more.