Burmese pythons Florida wildlife officials announced last week that 5,000invasive Burmese pythons have been removed from the delicate Evergladesecosystem since setting up elimination programs three years ago.

Teams with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and SouthFlorida Water Management District (SFWMD) worked together to reach themilestone effort, the agencies said in a statement on Tuesday.

5 OF THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE US

SFWMD Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron called the milestone“another win for the Everglades.”

“Every snake counts,” he said. “Each invasive python eliminated representshundreds of native Florida wildlife saved.”

Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python is one of the largest snakes inthe world, growing to over 20 feet long. The apex predator has caused a severedecline in mammal populations in the Everglades, including endangered species.The snakes feed on animals like birds and rabbits, and take away those foodsources from native wildlife like panthers, bobcats and alligators.

“We can’t win the battle alone,” FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto said of thejoint effort between the agencies, experienced python hunters hired by thestate and the ongoing support from Gov. Ron DeSantis. “It’s one team, onemission.”

The state has enlisted python hunters to cull the invasive species from theEverglades. It doubled its ranks of experienced hunters to 50 late last year,the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported at the time, paying an hourly rate of$8.65. The SFWMD also offered bonus bounties based on the length of the snakeor for finding a nest of eggs.

Earlier this year, a Burmese python hunt, dubbed the “Python Bowl” to coincidewith Super Bowl LVIII, bagged 80 snakes as hunters competed for cash prizes.

The FWC’s Python Action Team has removed more than 1,700 snakes since early2017, an agency spokeswoman told the Tampa Bay Times, while the SFWMD’s PythonElimination Program has captured nearly 3,400.

The snake began appearing in the Everglades more than 20 years ago when thereptiles were imported as pets, according to the U.S. Department ofAgriculture (USDA). Many were believed to have escaped or were released intothe wild.

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