July 17, 2009
Armed with snake hooks and nets, a group of reptile experts
selected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC) to participate in the state's
python permit program captured
a 9-foot, 8-inch Burmese python. The volunteer permit holders
spotted the python in water underneath a boardwalk leading to a
camp on a tree island. It was later euthanized.
"Honestly, I was surprised. I did not expect to see a Burmese
python today," said Shawn Heflick of Palm Bay, one of the permit
holders. "We hope our success today helps us establish connections
with airboat operators and sportsmen out here in the 'Glades. They
can tell us where these snakes are, so we can go out and find
The FWC's Burmese python permit program kicked off Friday. It
allows permit holders to search for pythons on several FWC
wildlife management areas and lands managed by the South Florida
Water Management District.
"Today's success in the field points to the professionalism and
experience of our permit holders," said FWC Chairman Rodney
Barreto. "We thank Gov. Charlie Crist for supporting this program.
Today's outcome shows that we do have a serious Burmese python
problem, and this program is a good first step in helping to stop
the spread of this exotic species."
To date, the FWC has issued permits to five people to participate
in the program. Permit holders must already have a Reptile of
Concern permit. The FWC screens them before issuing permits for
participation in this program. When permit holders capture and
euthanize a python, they must report its GPS location and take a
digital photo of the carcass. They must also fill out a data
collection sheet and submit it to the FWC. If they wish to do so,
permit holders may sell the snake's hide and meat.
The python permit program runs from July 17 to Oct. 31, at which
time the FWC will evaluate the data collected and determine if it
should extend or expand the program.