DAVIE, Fla. – The 106 Burmese pythons captured over a monthlong hunt won’t help control Florida’s invasive snake population, but wildlife officials said Saturday that doesn’t matter as much as the awareness they bring to the state’s environmental concerns.
Thousands of pythons, far from their natural habitat in Southeast Asia, are believed to be stalking Florida wildlife in the beleaguered Everglades. The tan, splotchy snakes can be elusive in the wetlands, but Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say volunteer python removal programs and two state-sanctioned hunts since 2009 are focusing more eyes to the problem.
“Whether they’re fishermen or they’re hunters or they’re hikers or they’re birdwatchers — they’re all looking for the python,” said wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron. “The success of the ‘Python Challenge’ has broadened out to thousands of people now.”
The longest python caught during the hunt that ran between Jan. 16 and Feb. 14 was 15 feet long. It was caught by a team led by Bill Booth of Sarasota.
Booth’s team also took home a prize for largest haul of snakes: 33 pythons.