Florida burmese python hiring hunters
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The Sunshine State is looking for a few good python hunters.

By Craig Raleigh

The South Florida Water Management District needs more 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 for a paid python hunter job, 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.

What Gun for Python?

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 still 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 in length or snakes that are 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 an ongoing program for the future as well. While we should be talking about the state of deer or turkey hunting in Florida at this time of year, the reality is that invasive species in the state–on land and in the sea–need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

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  1. Paying for citizens to kill invasive species is a good thing. Not so sure we need to pay them by the hour, suddenly that’s a jobs program.

    How about just paying a bounty?

    • They tried paying a bounty in India a number of years ago with dead rats. Turns out the Indians were raising their own rats then turning them into the British authorities. The British authorities put a stop to it. End result? The Indianans turned loose all the rats that they were raising and made the rat problem much, much worse. Law of unintended consequences.

      • The India thing was cobras, and yeah that’s a true story. The rat story is also true but that was Vietnam under French rule.

        Americans have had bounties at various times on various critters. Wolves, and coyotes being the most common example. Never heard of anyone raising wolves or coyotes for the bounty.

        Doing it today for certain snakes and lizards in the USA, I strongly doubt anyone would try to raise them. That’s too much effort, costs money. Aside from people releasing pet reptiles into the wild, I just don’t se the breeding thing being a big problem here.

        • Yeah just don’t set the bounty that high. Crackheads aren’t going to think far enough ahead to set up that scam and it won’t be worth it to anyone else.

        • You obviously don’t know anything about pythons. A single female, 12 – 16 feet long, can produce 50+ eggs, which when removed from her and hatched in an incubator, often have a 80-100 hatch rate. I live in NC and have several Burms, and they are not as expensive to raise as many people think. I raise rabbits, ducks, chickens, geese, and pot-bellied pigs on my small farm, some of which are destined to be python meals. The average burm only takes 1 year to reach 4 ft, and 2-3 years, being fed well, to reach 8 feet. Depending on the “bounty”, it could easily be profitable to raise 50 – 100/year (that’s from 2 females and one male). Either way, by the hour or by bounty, there will always be some who will milk the system.

    • I recall reading somewhere some time ago that Louisiana offered a bounty on nutria. Worked for a while when the nutria were plentiful and it was worth it to spend a day picking them off. However, the more successful the program got, the fewer nutria, the less attractive to spend a day hunting them. The net result was the nutria were reduced, but not eliminated, and bounced right back.

      Better to pay a salary and a bounty.

    • Actually, it is a terrible idea. Google “Cobra affect”. There have been and will always be a ton of unintended consequences to government programs like this.

    • Minimum wage with verified GPS phone tracking app, plus paid per kill, bonus for larger snakes and snakes guarding a nest. Maybe people could do it part time for the fun of it or instead of a career flipping burgers?

      • Dude I make a LOT more than minimum wage. Hell I own small business. And I’m wishing I could do this for a few weeks out of the year. Get paid to hunt ! It doesn’t get better than that. I wish Texas would start hiring “hog removal specialists “.

        • The problem in Texas with hogs is they mostly on private land that the state has no authority to manage; but the pythons are mainly found in the huge state owned lands, like the Everglades. in FL. They should establish a tax incentive for landowners who reduce the hogs on their lands. Same problem remains, hogs can easily be caught out of state and trucked to farms where they can be claimed as bounty. What they may need to do is establish a law that fines landowners who do NOTHING about the feral hog populations on their properties, especially the PETA morons who insist that they should be left alone.

          Another possible solution to the pythons in FL is to establish a value for the snakes – their skins and their meat. Many restaurants offer gator on the menu, no reason they couldn’t put python on their too. They’re presently working on that idea with the lionfish, to give divers and incentive to kill as many as they can — lionfish are really delicious and so are pythons!

  2. What constitutes “humanely dispatch”?

    A load of .410 shot…12 ga…a machette…?? (I’m partial to a 16″ council bank blade from Forestry Suppliers…used one to clear brush and random rattlers for years).

  3. Aww… I had my Colt Python holstered and ready to go.

    Then I looked again… python hunters, not Python hunters.

  4. Back in the ’80s when the whole boa/python craze was starting due to a burst of importation (before the source countries made it illegal to export them), I had several Burmese Pythons. Bought them as two-foot babies, and they grew rapidly to about 15 feet within only a few years. The first clutch of 25+ eggs from the young female had a 100% hatch rate (rare, but not surprising due to the optimum conditions I kept them in) and within a few months she was ready to breed again. I found homes for all the babies each time, but soon realized that this was going to be a problem as the snakes grew too large for me to comfortably handle. Besides, once you become known as simply “the snake guy”, you begin to attract the attention of some weird people who have some screws loose, and my girlfriend wasn’t keen on the idea. I finally sold everything off, in time to be disassociated with the problem when a few years later the news began reporting troubles in the Florida Everglades.

    Burmese/Indian Pythons soon became to the reptile world what feral hogs are to the mammalian world. Highly reproductive, dangerous, and out of control.

    All that said, what does this article have to do with guns?

    • All that said, what does this article have to do with guns?

      There’s the heading “What Gun for Python?” I think the author was about to discuss what gun to use, but got distracted by Chinese hackers.

    • jwm, I’ve seen pics of pythons eating gators in the ‘glades. These things are a real no shit problem for South Florida. As are iguanas and a number of other exotic pets. Even red ants. They arrived on a banana boat in Mobile, Alabama. Number one enemy of nesting Bob White Quail. The South East United States can’t take much more. Oh! Let’s not forget the most destructive invasive species. The northern, liberal, carpet bagger, snow bird piece of shit. Stay up there! We hate you!

      • “Let’s not forget the most destructive invasive species. The northern, liberal, carpet bagger, snow bird piece of shit.”

        A genuine invasive and destructive species, and nothing that can be done about it.

        *grrrrrrrrr*… 🙁

        • Without which your taxes would double, as a 30 yr resident, that’s just going to get worse with NY raising Taxes. Carl Incheon, 4th richest man in NYC, just moved to his FL home full time last week, many more to come.

        • Yes there is! If Trump wants to build a wall I suggest one from Jacksonville to Pensacola. Vacation visas only. A heavy nautical patrol. Strict, and I mean strict, immigration requirements. U.S. citizens only. Those from north of the Mason-Dixon Line and the west coast are suspect. Those from the rocky mountain states, except those from urban areas of Colorado, are welcome. As are many mid-westeners and Texans. God save Florida!

        • GEOFF I came to the South from the North 23 years ago I have been in the South year round which is.my right. When at 17 I joined the US Army while the US was at war most likely so your sorry ass could live free, so lighten up on northerners.

  5. I would probably carry a 9-shot revolver with a barrel at least 6 inches long chambered in .22 LR for humanely dispatching pythons and boa constrictors.

  6. 3 questions:

    Why not open up this as a tourist opportunity?

    Are pythons good to eat (like chicken?)

    What is the ideal firearm or method for harvest? Maybe multiple calibers for different size snakes?

  7. I’d imagine a .410 would be about right, maybe a shovel would be handy – personally I’d request hand grenades, but I’m not a reptile person.

  8. Nope I’m out. You know why? It’s because while you’re out there beating around in the bushes looking for 12′ Pythons that no one should be afraid of you find 10 times more 5′ rattlesnakes and water moccasins that anyone with good sense should be afraid of.

    I am so looking forward to Green Swamp WMA in November. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get my deer before I have to go too far into the swamp.

  9. Well, hell. If only I were still stationed in the Keys. I could stand to put my .22 to work and put some snake meat on the table.

  10. Start a theme hunt. Day of shooting snakes for $100 bucks, this way it won’t cost the taxpayers anything, let them keep up to 2 snakes for themselves, have a couple of skinners there who charge to skin the suckers and make a dam business out of it, instead of paying money for some guys who can’t shoot worth lick, and are a danger to others. I can just see a bunch of drunks shooting into areas that you can’t see the backstop through the brush and swamp and getting bitten by poisonous snakes that inhabit the same areas.
    What about gators? they are all over the places where the snakes hang out? Are they going to allow Gator hunting if they are a threat? Or Hogs? There are hundreds of thousands of these snakes, I honestly don’t think 50 hunters are going to do much good

  11. I’ve read some about this. Some people use shotguns. Some team up, wrestle the snake and drill a hole into the brain. Others use knives and spears and some even bring them in alive to be drilled in the brain on the spot.

    Been to Florida. Too flat for me. But I suppose I’d be inclined, were I there, to take along one of my shotguns. Maybe a .22 wheelgun too, I even have a magnum cylinder for my old H&R 649.

    Good times.

    • Single shot 12 with a variety of shot sizes in my vest. Put the Mag cylinder in my Single Six. Maybe a good machete. I’d be ready for a day or two tracking reptiles.

      Out here in CA I see them on occasion when hunting or hiking. But they’re the native species and I don’t shoot them. I will hurry them along with my walking stick if i need the trail.

  12. I live in Florida and 99% of what you are reading on this page is bullshit!
    If you want the truth do your own research

  13. In addition to pythons as an invasive species, I remember hearing that there are feral chimpanzees and monkeys living in the Florida swamps and woods (where the habitat is very close to their native tropical habitat in the tropics), having escaped or been turned loose from captivity. Some people think they make cute pets when they are young. Not so much when they grow up. Floridians – any truth to that story? If true, that would also offer opportunities for hunters or trappers.

  14. “…hunters have removed nearly 3,000 Burmese pythons, but their numbers still continue to grow.”

    That’s always the difficulty with things like this – figuring out a way to remove them faster than they can breed.
    Guam has been having a never ending battle with something called the Brown Tree Snake for decades now.

    As for pythons in Florida, I’ll gladly brave the swamps and hunt them. Just so long as I can call in mortar fire and an AC-47 “Spooky” as soon as I spot one within a half a mile of my location….

  15. I don’t generally eat snake, toad or lizard. I wonder if deer can be considered an invasive animal? Can we get paid to hunt deer?

  16. The invasive species that needs a call for citizen hunting are the two legged kind. Not to sanely dispatch of course but to turn over to customs and border patrol for deportation.

  17. Florida tried the bounty thing with the lion fish. It has been a total failure and the lion fish, with no natural predators are decimating our reefs. Once I found out lion fish are good eating, I suggested a marketing campaign to make them the next stone crabs (also originally another unwanted “junk fish” but native to our waters). I think everyone at FWC, all the plastic straw banning restaurant owners and all the chefs I spoke to are still rolling on the floor laughing. Last I checked there is still a bounty on the snakes (not any longer on lion fish), but if it is anything like the one on lion fish, there is no reason for someone interested in harvesting another species to divert resources in return for the negligible rewards offered.

  18. Why shoot them? I would go for trapping. Do you get to keep the skins? Also, while I have not had python, I have eaten Mojave Green rattlesnake and it was pretty good. I imagine the skins and meat would be nice to make cool stuff and meat for the freezer, not to mention that skins and meat would pay enough to help out with the minimum wage in the right markets.

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