A massive Burmese python large enough to ingest deer and alligators was captured by a permitted python researcher in the Everglades National Park in Florida recently, CBS Miami reported Tuesday.
The python, found along a tram road at Shark Valley on July 9, measured a whooping 18 feet, 3 inches and was only five inches shy of the largest snake ever captured in Florida. An 18-foot, 8-inch Burmese Python was caught in Miami-Dade in 2013.
Park officials told CBS that the best news about this capture is that its removal from the wild will help protect the diverse wildlife in Everglades National Park. It’s believed to be the second-largest snake taken in Florida.
After its capture, National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey interns who work on invasive species control projects were allowed to handle the snake to give them confidence and experience in handling Burmese pythons.
Everglades National Park spokeswoman Linda Friar told CBS that the snake was eventually humanely euthanized.
The snake was found to be a female that had not reproduced this season, and its stomach was empty.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a Burmese Python Removal Program designed to control the population of the invasive snake, which was first sighted in South Florida in the 1980s. The species was officially recognized as a reproducing population in 2000 and since then sightings have grown exponentially.
State and federal officials have evaluated specially designed traps, dogs trained to sniff out pythons and a massive amateur hunt to try and get a handle on the invasive python population. So far, only cold weather and "exotic pet amnesty days," where people can relinquish non-native species with no questions asked, have reliably delivered pythons to officials.
Florida prohibits possession or sale of the pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of the species.
The reported population of Burmese pythons in South Florida is from at least 30,000 upwards to 300,000. Unfortunately, it is expected to continue to grow.
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