The Sunshine State is looking for a few good python hunters.
The South Florida Water Management District needs new python hunters, and they need them now. Program director Mike Kirkland told the Fort Myers News-Press, "We're going to be asking for 50 paid hunters. It's been a tremendous success, the most successful program in the history of the issue by a wide margin in terms of snakes caught and cost effectiveness."
Payment may be one of the perks of hunting the invasive pythons in Florida, but elimination of this threat from the Sunshine State is what citizens are really looking for.
In order to be considered as a paid python hunter, you must be at least 18-years-of-age, have all of your identification in order and available to authorities, and have no recent criminal history. Maybe the best part for prospective hunters: firearms can be used to take the invasive creatures.
Since the program was started in 2017 to curb the area's non-native Burmese python population, hunters have removed nearly 3,000 Burmese pythons, but their numbers continue to grow.
Authorized citizens, known as "python removal agents," will be paid by the hour to track and humanely dispatch pythons and other invasive species such as the cane toad or the Tegu lizard. And if you can find them, the program pays extra for snakes measuring more than four-feet or for snakes killed while guarding a nest full of eggs.
Beyond that, the SFWMD is also petitioning the state to add $750,000 to the program's funding making it a program for the future as well. Sadly, we should be talking about the state of deer or turkey hunting in Florida, but the reality is that invasives in the state--on land and in the sea--need to be dealt with, and now is the time.