"Problem pythons" sounds like a great band name, but it's a real issue for some areas of Florida. Burmese pythons are breeding and spreading across wildlife areas, including the fragile Everglades. The state now pays trappers to round up the large snakes, and one particular hunter just caught a doozy.
Trapper John Hammond grabbed an 18-foot-long (5.5-meter) python this past weekend. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) shared a startling photo of his trophy on Facebook earlier this week. "During cooler months, people are more likely to see pythons during the day," the commission wrote.
Hammond, officially known as a Python Removal Contractor, snagged the snake in the Everglades Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area near Miami. Burmese pythons can reach 20 feet (6 meters) in size.
The story didn't end happily for the snake. FWC says pythons caught for the program are humanely euthanized. Hammond told Fox 35 he would use the snake's hide after skinning it.
The news station also reports the snake just set a new record for largest python caught as part of Florida's removal program. The 150-pounder beat out a 17-foot, 120-pound snake snagged in November.
It's sad to see what happens to these majestic animals, but Florida is trying to control the invasive species, which is taking a serious toll on native wildlife.
The state even offers Python Patrol, a training program for private citizens that teaches them how to identify, capture and humanely kill the predators. Hundreds of the snakes have been removed since Florida started its python-control efforts.
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