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Hurricanes and pythons--The hunt continues

Leonardtown, MD - Andrew Wyatt, president of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, believes, it was Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which destroyed a snake importer’s warehouse and allowed over 1,000 snakes to escape in to the Florida Everglades. 

We may never know how all the 100,000 snakes statewide--30,000 are in the Everglades--got there but what is certain is that South Florida, and especially the 1.5 million acres of the Everglades, now is home to an abundance of Burmese pythons nesting, breeding, and feeding in the Everglades, all with no known natural predator.

With the snakes’ ability to have up to 100 eggs, and the absence of natural predators, the number continues to rise. Over the years efforts many efforts have been made to eradicate the these predators which can grow to 20 Feet long and weigh 200 pounds They even eat alligators!

In April, the Florida House of Representatives voted to enter into competitive bid contracts with private individuals who are interested in hunting down pythons, lionfish and other dangerous species in the Everglades.

Hunters were paid $8.10 hourly and given monthly bonuses based on the size of the snakes they capture.

The bounty hunters  bagged 2,000 pounds worth of giant snakes . Burmese pythons weighing about 200 pounds each, so that's roughly 10 massive snakes. Many more to go. According to Weather.com, bounty hunters were paid $50 for every 4-foot snake they catch and $25 for each additional foot. If a python is caught nesting, that's an additional $150. So far, the government has spent $29,000 on snake hunting..

Introduced to the Florida Everglades National Park about 20 years ago, scientists and park rangers believe it has become a major threat to wildlife there, with an entire ecosystem at risk. And, of a lesser threat so far, yet no less invasive, is the presence of two other large snakes: boa constrictors and African rock pythons. One wonders what effect the major flooding in southern Florida  caused by Irma will have on the migration of these snakes.

Contact Martin Fairclough at m.fairclough@thebaynet.com

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