published : 2023-11-10
Florida Men Capture Massive 17-Foot, 200-Pound Invasive Python in Everglades
Burmese python caught in Big Cypress National Preserve weighed 197.9 pounds, wildlife officials say
A group of Florida men went out hunting for invasive pythons in the Big Cypress National Preserve and wound up capturing a massive snake almost fit for the record books, video shows.
Holden Hunter, Trey Barber, and Carter Gavlock encountered the 17-foot, 2-inch predator slithering across a sandy trail on Friday.
They were driving back from snook and tarpon fishing when they saw the massive creature in their headlights.
They hopped out of their vehicle to try catching it when two others arrived separately – Mike Elfenbein, a local conservationist, and his son Cole.
All five teamed up to wrangle the massive snake and hold it until a game warden arrived with a bolt gun to euthanize it at the scene.
The group turned in the giant catch to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, state wildlife officials confirmed.
The official weight of the female python was recorded at 197.9 pounds, making it the second-heaviest Burmese python removed from Florida on record.
Gavlock plans to mount the skull, while Hunter and Barber intend to have the skin preserved at the tackle shop where they both work.
According to Gavlock, these snakes are fantastic animals when kept in captivity, but they pose a serious threat to the natural balance in the Everglades.
The pythons prey on small game, impacting the food supply of natural predators, some of which are already endangered or threatened.
This includes Florida's iconic panthers, whose population is dwindling and numbered less than 250 in the wild, as reported by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The capture of this massive python serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address the invasive species problem in Florida.
Burmese pythons, known for their large size, are considered a threat to native wildlife and are allowed to be humanely killed year-round without a permit or hunting license.
They are prohibited as pets in Florida due to their problematic nature.
These pythons can grow to an average length of 6 to 9 feet, with the longest recorded in Florida measuring over 19 feet.
While they primarily inhabit the Everglades, sightings have been reported in other areas as well.
If anyone spots a Burmese python, authorities urge them to report the location to the Florida Wildlife Commission's Exotic Species Hotline.
Florida's unique ecosystem depends on the successful management of these invasive species to protect its delicate balance and preserve its wildlife.