Pythons are a big problem in Florida: After decades of irresponsible pet disposal, Burmese pythons have set up shop in the Florida Everglades, preying on vulnerable native species. For years, Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has asked Floridian hunters to help by joining their Python Action Team. Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis stepped up to the challenge, capturing a monster 18-foot 9-inch constrictor. Now, its hide is bound for another Florida location--Tampa, where the 2021 "Big Game" will unfold.
Ausburn and Pavlidis create and sell products crafted from snakeskin, so they know just what to do with the behemoth serpent, which weighed 104 pounds. Reportedly, they'll be making some very special footballs for that very special Big Game, which will happen right there in their native state.
Invasive species are a real problem in many places, but the Florida Everglades are particularly vulnerable. The removal of the pythons is an effort to reduce predation on native wildlife, which has been dramatic since the snakes began multiplying in the Everglades some 20 years ago. The giant snakes have been found to prey on water birds, all sorts of small mammals--which have largely disappeared in vast swaths where the snakes are most abundant--and even on alligators and deer occasionally.
Would you like to help Florida's conservation efforts while putting a little extra cash in your pocket? Python Action Team Members are paid to remove and turn pythons in to the FWC. The application period is open, but applicants must meet certain requirements. The FWC will review applications on a regular basis. Click here for more!