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Hissssssssssssssssstory Made in the Everglades-SFWMD Python Hunters Eliminate 1000th Snake

Eliminated snake total highlights District's ongoing efforts to eradicate invasive species to protect ecosystem. West Palm Beach, FL - Yesterday, May 22, hunters participating in the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board's Python Elimination Program achieved an important milestone for this highly successful initiative by eliminating the 1000th snake. An average of three pythons have been eliminated per day from SFWMD lands since the program began in March 2017. Eliminating invasive species such as Burmese pythons is critical to preserving the rare Everglades ecosystem. Florida taxpayers have invested billions of dollars to restore the water quality and hydrology of the everglades. Combatting invasive plants and animals is necessary to ensure this investment results in our shared goals of the overall restoration plan. "The success of this program was made possible through a dedicated team approach," said SFWMD scientist Mike Kirkland, project manager for the Python Elimination Program. Hunter Brian Hargrove dispatched the 1000th python, an 11-foot-2-inch long snake. Hargrove, a Miami native who grew up visiting the Everglades as a child, talked about how he used to see the Everglades full of native species and how the python has decimated the native wildlife.

All the pythons eliminated by the program would stretch approximately 7,300 feet - or about 1.4 miles - and weigh more than 16,500 pounds, or the equivalent of more than 8 tons. To date, all of this has been accomplished with less than $250,000 spent on wages and bounties for the hunters, an average expenditure of less than $250 per snake."Congratulations to the South Florida Water Management District, and the many hunters that have taken part in this program, on the elimination of their 1000th invasive Burmese Python," said U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples. "The 12-foot-long python that is hanging in my office is a daily reminder of the need to eradicate this species and protect the unique ecosystem of our Everglades. I am currently working with the U.S. Department of Interior and the House Natural Resources Committee to allow for hunting of Burmese Pythons within Everglades National Park, as well as to allow the male python tracking program organized by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. This will speed up the process of eliminating these snakes, which are not native to our area and have no natural predators." In addition to the innovative program fighting the spread of Burmese pythons, the SFWMD Governing Board for years has budgeted millions of dollars in cooperation with other state and federal partners to eradicate and control invasive species such as melaleuca, Brazilian pepper trees and the invasive fern, lygodium. Elected officials and celebrities ranging from Rooney to superstar chef Gordon Ramsey have taken part in the hunt, bringing international awareness to the issue. The invasive Burmese python, which breeds and multiplies quickly and has no natural predator in the Everglades ecosystem, has decimated native populations of wildlife. The more that can be eliminated, especially females and their eggs, the better chance future generations of native wildlife will have to thrive in the Everglades ecosystem that Floridians have invested billions of dollars to restore.

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