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From invasive super-predator to cash cow

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Here’s a bit of news that I will confess, has really piqued my interest; The Everglades National Park will now allow state-contracted python hunters onto its federal lands to find and kill the invasive Burmese python.   They’ve been trying to remove pythons from the area for years, hoping to put a halt to the rapidly growing population.  But, all of the scientific attempts by biologists and wildlife managers has been remarkably unsuccessful.  Now, the snakes are so common, they are ravaging the park’s native wildlife populations and the state is looking to us hunters for help.

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 This is a pretty big deal, considering decades of resistance by the national park service as hunting is prohibited in the Everglade’s parks.   In the past, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had been refused when trying to include these federal lands in its state-authorized efforts to hunt pythons using hired, contracted hunters.

 Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Everglades National Park, has said of the decision, “we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve realized that this is a significant problem that requires us to be open-minded and flexible in the way that we approach it.” 

In recent years the python problem has worsened, likely driving Ramos and the Everglades to the inevitable decision to allow contracted hunters onto the national park, “The giant snakes have turned up in Key Largo and on an island in Biscayne Bay, which means they’re swimming significant distances in salty water. Native animals continue to disappear at an alarming rate and pythons are still dueling alligators for supremacy atop the Everglades food chain.”
 
How To Apply To Become A Contracted Python Hunter

 If you’re an experienced hunter looking for a project to keep you in the woods, honing your skills, this might just be right up your alley.   You must have some python-hunting experience, however,  if you expect to be hired.  

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Still, if you’re a hunter who’s retired or has some time to chase an adventure, you could head down to South Florida and bag three pythons to make yourself eligible!

 Below is a list of all requirements and details as provided by the FWC through the state agency’s Python Removal Contractor Program.
 
Eligible Applicants Must:

• Have captured and removed at least three Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem while working under a valid FWC Python Removal permit, as an Everglades National Park Authorized Agent, or from private lands with landowner permission.  Pythons removed from private lands must be documented by photographs and must have been euthanized at the time and site of capture or deposited with the FWC.

 • Have no violations on any FWC issued permits, or other animal-related citations.

• Have sufficient time to conduct self-directed surveys using the predetermined routes and to efficiently respond to survey requests.

• Possess personal communication capabilities, including a cell phone and valid email.

• Assume personal liability for health, welfare and safety of themselves and anyone assisting them.

• Project a positive image at all times.

Once hired, contractors will be paid monthly by the FWC for python removal efforts based on hourly rates of $8.25 per hour for surveys conducted on Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA and Everglades National Park and $15 per hour, for surveys conducted on Holey Land, Rotenberger, Big Cypress and Picayune Strand WMAs and $15 per hour, for responding to survey requests.

Contractors will also be paid $200 for removal of each active python nest that has been field verified by FWC. For all submitted pythons, the FWC will make an additional payment per python of $50 for pythons measuring up to four feet, and an extra $25 for every foot measured above four feet.

 For more information on how to submit the information or to learn more about becoming a contracted python hunter, go to FWC’s Python Removal Contractor Program. 

And a always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

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