OKEECHOBEE — In the first 10 days of the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Python Elimination Program, hunters removed 10 Burmese pythons with a combined length of nearly 100 feet, saving hundreds of native animals in the process. SFWMD has paid nearly $2,000 in cash to the bounty hunters. Although new, the bounty program is already helping to protect Everglades by eradicating deadly predators.
“For these hunters to have already eliminated 10 snakes is tremendous, given the fact that simply locating the elusive python is literally like finding a moving, camouflaged needle in a haystack,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “It’s great to see that this Governing Board’s action to challenge this invasive and destructive predator has yielded early results.”
Hunter Patrick Campbell has captured the biggest snake to date with a 15-foot-10 inch python killed on April 2. This 135-pound kill netted the hunter $350. Hunters Nicholas Baños and Leonardo Sanchez found the second largest snake to date on April 1 at 15 feet 2 inches. This python netted the hunters $325.
Barry Oppenburger has been the most successful hunter so far, killing three snakes in the first week. He caught a 13-foot python, an 8-foot-2-inch python and a 6-foot-8-inch python for a total bounty of $550.
The 25 participants began hunting after the program orientation on March 25 and will continue hunting until June. Participants are paid $8.10 per hour up to eight hours daily. 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. An additional $100 will be given for each eliminated python nest with eggs.
Special to the Okeechobee News
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