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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Florida manages to eradicate 1,000 giant pythons

Por Damian

According to El Nuevo Herald, Brian Hargrove went into the swamps of the Everglades, Florida, to hunt pythons, the huge invading snakes that are devouring the species in the area. He managed to capture an 11-foot-long serpent in an area where American crocodiles live. Discover what it all meant in this report.

Hargrove´s finding was not a simple capture as he caught the 1,000th serpent of the Snake Elimination Program of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), which began in late March 2017. This means a milestone in the efforts of the so-called Sunshine State to eradicate or at least contain the Burmese pythons in South Florida, which have become a serious problem for the fragile ecosystem of the Everglades.

"I was very happy to catch it because it was in an area where there were American crocodiles and that size (the python) was feeding on them", Hargrove said last Tuesday in a live broadcast of the SFWMD from Homestead through Facebook. The authorities consider Hargrove the hunter who has caught the most pythons since the program began, with a total of 110 snakes.

But Hargrove hunting them generates mixed emotions, he said, because he loves all animals, including snakes.

"Pythons are very beautiful animals, but something has to be done", he said, referring to the predators that are these reptiles. During the necropsies cat claws, bovine claws, deer hooves, birds, rabbits, opossums and raccoons have been found in their stomachs. They also feed on other snakes and even deer.

The hunter said he used to see four to five rabbits a day in the swamps and since he started the python eradication program he has only seen one in a whole year and "looked scared".

Only in Collier County, southwest Florida, The Nature Conservancy estimates that 61 percent of the diet of pythons found in that area is small mammals, such as rabbits, opossums and raccoons. Another 29 percents are rodents and birds. The SFWMD detailed that the Burmese python is an invasive snake that is threatening the Everglades food chain.

"These giant constrictors not only kill native prey, they also steal native predators from their primary sources of food", he said. Through the Florida program, the state has been paying a group of hunters to kill pythons in Miami-Dade, Broward and Collier counties.

As part of the program, professional python hunters are paid 8.10 dollars per hour for up to eight hours per day and get an additional 50 dollars for those that measure up to 4 feet and 25 more for each foot that exceeds that measure. If the hunters find nests, for each one eliminated along with the eggs, they pay them an additional 100. A female can lay up to 100 eggs.