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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One of South Florida’s most prolific snake hunters has set a new record for the longest snake caught as part of the South Florida Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program.

Jason Leon captured and killed a 17-foot-1-inch Burmese python on Friday in the Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.

“We got this girl Friday. She was completely submerged in the water,” Leon said as he displayed the giant snake at the SFWMD’s Homestead Field Station. “There was a little male sitting with her but I decided to let him go. They were both completely in the water. I got her out and shot her in the head.”

The snake weighed 132 pounds.

Leon, excited about his catch, then said, “We’re gonna find a 20-footer tonight.”

Leon’s catch tops the previous high mark for the program of 16 feet, 11 inches established by Dusty “Wildman” Crum last month. Leon also holds the state record with an 18-foot-8-inch python he caught in 2013.

Since SFWMD’s program started in late March, python hunters have eliminated 738 invasive Burmese pythons on District lands in Miami-Dade, Broward and Collier counties.

Hunters taking part in the Python Elimination Program earn minimum wage plus a bounty for every python they capture. The bigger the snake, the bigger the check.

The largest snake ever caught in Florida was 18-feet, 7 inches and was caught in 2013 in Miami-Dade.

Burmese pythons are an invasive reptile with no natural predators, which appear to be wiping out most of the small mammals that once thrived in Everglades National Park.

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