HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) — It’s a milestone moment for the South Florida Water Management District in their effort to reduce the number of Burmese pythons in the Everglades.
On Tuesday, the 1,000th python collected under the agency’s Python Elimination Program was brought to their field office in Homestead.
The snake came in at 11′ 2″ and weighed 32 pounds.
Hunter Brian Hargrove, who has caught more pythons than any other hunter in the program, collected the milestone snake last Friday.
“I was driving slowly along a canal and looking in the grass and I was on the way out of levy and there it was,” he told CBS4 News. “The area it was caught in was inhabited by American crocodiles.”
Since then, even more have been caught.
“Look at how thick this thing is,” said Isaiah Figuereo, another snake hunter. “She’s fat all the way through like a tree trunk.”
For good reason. It was a female python with 34 eggs.
“They’re almost fully formed python eggs and in a day or two they could have been in the burrow and she could have been protecting them for about 60 days,” said Figuereo.
The SFWMD say it is important to get rid of these snakes because they don’t belong in the Everglades and they’re having a devastating impact.
“The snakes are generalist predators. They will eat anything that can fit in their mouth, basically,” said SFWMD’s Mike Kirkland.
Pythons don’t just go after small animals like rabbits and rats, they also take larger prey like alligators and deer.
“Snakes are able to unhinge their jaws and they are able to fit much a larger animal than you’d expect just by looking at the size of their mouth,” said Kirkland.
The big question that many people have is how many are out there? Seems no one has a good count.
“I’ve heard anywhere between 10,000 and 200,000 snakes out there, but the answer is we just don’t know,” said Kirkland.
The state has been paying a select group of hunters to kill the invasive snakes on state lands in South Florida since March 2017. The hunting program initially was limited to Miami-Dade County but has been expanded into Broward and Collier counties as well.