By Hank Tester

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s a big one! In fact, the biggest captured during this current python eradication project conducted by the South Florida Water Management District.

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Python measuring 16′ 10″ captured as part of the South Florida Water Management Python Hunt. (SFWMD)

It wasn’t an easy task for Dusty “The Wildman” Crum, an orchid grower by day and a champion python hunter in his spare time.

“It is like Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania!” he said.

At 16 feet and 10 inches, the snake made for a good pay day for The Wildman.

SFWMD is paying hunters like Crum $8.10 per hours with big incentives.

Depending on the size of the snake presented, there will be an additional on-the-spot per payment of $50 for pythons measuring up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot measured above 4 feet.

In the example below, an 8-foot python would pay out $150.


Crum’s massive python netted him $375 from the water district – about the same selling the skin.

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The snake was the biggest caught during this round of hunting.

However, it’s not the biggest ever. The local record was a snake measuring 18 feet, two inches and weighing 160.

The Wildman’s snake weighed 130, still a terrifying size.

This is serious business, with thousands upon thousands of these pythons in the Everglades.

The invasive species terrorizes raccoons, rabbits, birds and even gators.

“It is a small program right now. We started 48 days ago… 78 snakes removed,” said Juan Valdes

So this is one snake, does it make a difference? Absolutely! Crum and crew also captured 78 eggs.

“When people say they are only catching one or two snakes, why are they not catching more snakes?” Crum said. “Well we are making the difference by taking the eggs out of the eco system.”

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Plus, it pays to poach the eggs. Hunters are given an additional $100 for each eliminated python found guarding nests with eggs.