The capture by two Florida men of an 18-foot, 9-inch Burmese python has set a length record for state programs designed to control the spread of the invasive species.
Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis caught the 104-pound python on Oct. 2 in the Everglades, as members of the Python Action Team and South Florida Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program.
The Python Action Team is run by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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“The removal of this behemoth Burmese python is a triumph for our native wildlife and habitats,” FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto stated in a news release issued Thursday. “It’s a great example of the partnership between the FWC and the South Florida Water Management District, working under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, toward our goal of removing these nonnative predators.”
The python was captured and killed in a canal about 35 miles west of Miami. It beats the previous record, set in 2013, by one inch.
According to the South Florida Water Management District, hunters working for the two agencies have removed more than 5,000 Burmese pythons from the Everglades region.
The non-venomous constrictors, which can grow to 25 feet, pose a substantial threat to native wildlife, including small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Burmese pythons are native to Asia, from eastern India through Vietnam and southern China. They’ve gained a foothold in the Everglades, in part, as a result of pet owners illegally freeing the snakes after they became too large to handle safely. (A female Burmese python can lay between 50 and 100 eggs.)
It’s now illegal to acquire pythons in Florida as personal pets.
The FWC works with several partners in an attempt to control the snakes’ population, but also enlists the public’s help.
Pythons can be humanely killed on private lands, with landowners’ permission, and in 25 Wildlife Management Areas throughout South Florida.
Python Action Team members are paid by the FWC to catch and dispatch pythons, and the agency encourages people who meet certain requirements to apply for membership.
–Image showing the record python, caught by Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis, is courtesy of the South Florida Water Management District