WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — The South Florida Water Management District is expanding the program that has already eliminated more than 2,500 invasive pythons from Florida’s Everglades at the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis.

Thursday, the SFWMD Governing Board approved a state plan to double the number of hunters in its Python Elimination Program.

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“This is for all of us who love the Everglades. We’re putting our money where our mouth is and taking the fight to these invasive pythons, now in a bigger way and across much more habitat,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss. “Gov. DeSantis loves the Everglades and directed us to leave no stone unturned to eradicate this predator that threatens native Everglades species. That is exactly what we are going to do with our partners at FWC and Everglades National Park.”

The Python Elimination Program first started in March of 2017 and has removed more than 2,540 snakes so far. The Governing Board also voted to triple the funding for this critical program.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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The program pays trained python contractors an hourly wage and a bounty based on the size of snakes to find and remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades. Burmese pythons are an invasive predator not native to South Florida that have become a severe threat to Florida’s native ecosystems. Pythons prey heavily on Florida wildlife, like rabbits and birds, and directly compete for food with native predators such as bobcats and Florida panthers.

(Courtesy: SFWMD)

Thursday’s deal also includes expanding the territory of District Python hunters who will now have access to more state and federal lands, which were previously off limits.

The Governing Board also authorized the District to contract with the University of Florida to perform scientific work to aid the python removal effort. The work would potentially include reptile monitoring and assessments of the impact of removal efforts on the python population.

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