Everglades National Park is located in the southernmost part of Florida. It’s the biggest area of subtropical wild that you can enjoy year-round. They have camping areas, trails for hiking, and an intense wildlife population that for nature lovers can’t be beat.
Want to see a gator in the wild? Keep your eyes open, because they are everywhere throughout the Everglades. What you don’t want to see is the Burmese python. This is an invasive species of snake that isn’t native to the area. Are you ready to go hunting?
The Reason There are so Many Pythons
It’s estimated that during the early 90s, people who adopted and brought over Burmese pythons from Asia eventually started to let them go in the Everglades when the owners didn’t want them anymore. Some probably naturally escaped on their own with inexperienced owners, but the majority were just unwanted pets.
They are unfortunately considered an “apex predator,” which means they have no natural enemies in the Everglades. The species can also grow up to 20 feet in length, eats mammals like rabbits, bobcats, and even deer, and are having dramatic increases in their population. One of the biggest problems is that they are taking the natural food source away for many native animals of the Everglades, such as the panther, bobcat, alligator, and certain types of birds. That’s why it’s important for hunters to eliminate this troublesome creature.
The Python Elimination Program
In March 2017, the Python Elimination Program was introduced to try and get rid of some of these python predators who endanger other wildlife that is indigenous to the area. Hunters that are part of the program have captured or killed over 2,000 of this type of snake in an area that is almost 8,000 square miles.
All of the “python removal agents” were given a field guide to the Everglades and instructions on what to do with the pythons. They were paid an hourly rate, and given bonuses of $50 for each python they eliminated. An extra bonus of $200 was paid on pythons that were eliminated while guarding a nest of eggs. The hunters are also allowed to use their own firearms, as long as they are on the accepted list by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the right permit.
Right Now the Program is Accepting Waitlist Hunters
Here’s the bad news. The program right now is technically closed to new hunters, but on the website you can sign up to be contacted when the hunting program is open again by filling out an application.
In the meantime, if you want to check out a great television show that showcases python hunting in the Everglades, the Python Hunter himself, Dusty “Wild Man” Crum is one of those hunters. He has a show on the Discovery Channel called “Guardians of the Glades” which premiered in May. It follows him and his crew of hunters as they combat this wild snake throughout the dense Everglades.
So do you think you would be game to hunt pythons in the Everglades?