Officials Push for Python Hunt - NBC 6 South Florida

Officials Push for Python Hunt

Public reptile round-up a real possibility in Florida



    Officials Push for Python Hunt
    Florida's had it with these snakes. Now you can go killed them -- and get paid for it.

    Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, and soon the state may need a few good men to drive the pythons out of Florida.

    There are approximately 150,000 of the large reptiles in the Sunshine State, and they've been officially declared out of control.

    That's why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is working on a plan to rid the state of the aggressive animals by allowing hunters to search and destroy the slithering serpents.

    "We're developing a plan immediately, that we will roll out, that we will allow people who are trained, supervised by us, to go out and hunt pythons and kill em," said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the FWC. "We're gonna hunt em. We're gonna eradicate em."

    Several things have been tried to get the pythons out of the woods and swamps of Florida, including training volunteers to trap them and using beagles to sniff them out.

    But nothing has worked so far, and now, after a python strangled a toddler to death in Central Florida, it may be open season on snakes.

    Just recently, Congress spoke out on the python problem, pushing for a ban on importing pythons, which are not native to Florida.

    "Sooner or later a Burmese python will get the endangered Florida Panther," said Sen. Bill Nelson, during a recent session.

    Nelson spoke out in May during a trip through the Everglades with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and the idea of letting trained citizens hunt the pythons was thrown around.

    The plan would call for 750,000 acres of state land to be opened up to hunters with permits, who would be paid a small bounty for each dead snake. But on Federal land, such as Everglades National Park, there may be no hunting since the use of guns isn't permitted and there are hefty fines for disturbing wildlife.

    Park officials say they plan on trying out every non-lethal idea to get rid of the pythons, something python hunter Albert Killian says may not be enough to rid the state of the predators.

    "They're going to thrust their coils around you, they start to constrict, they might even suffocate somebody," said Killian, who has captured two of the animals himself.