Florida establishes Python Patrol | News –


The hunt is still on for the python spotted two weeks ago, slithering and slinking in South Gulf Cove.

“Biologists are currently searching for the animal where it was originally reported,” said Adam Brown, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission public information officer. “We have received eight reports of confirmed Burmese pythons north of Lake Okeechobee in the last year.”

That includes a 9-foot, 9-inch Burmese python that wildlife officers and emergency workers caught and killed in Rotonda in February. A few days later, a family in Zolfo Springs in Hardee County caught a 16-foot, 6-inch Burmese python near their home.

Now, the state wildlife agency is taking python hunting another step further.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials have started a Python Patrol.

The training program is free and aims to create a network of trained volunteers throughout South Florida who can identify Burmese pythons and report sightings. It will also show members how to safely capture and humanely kill these invasive constrictors.

Similar virtual sessions are scheduled for Jan. 20 and Feb. 17, 2022. The sessions will include a live instruction on techniques from a biologist and a real-time Q&A session.

Specifically wildlife officials will present:

• Information about Burmese pythons in Florida.

• Species identification.

• How to search for pythons.

• Safe capture techniques.

• How to humanely kill a python.

• Reporting pythons to the state wildlife officials.

“Burmese pythons are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida, where the snake represents a threat to native wildlife,” Brown said.

Wildlife officials documented breeding python populations in the Everglades.

“However, Burmese pythons have been reported outside these areas, which likely represent released or escaped captive snakes being kept illegally,” he said.

Less frequently have pythons been spotted or captured as far north as Charlotte or Sarasota counties.

In March, a Rotonda resident, spotted the 9-foot Burmese python emerging out of an undeveloped lot onto the grassy roadside along Cougar Way, about a mile from L.A. Ainger Middle School. Wildlife officers, with the help of local deputies, were able to jump the reptile and subdue it.

Once captured, wildlife officials determined the snake probably was a pet that was undernourished and escaped or was let loose by an owner.

That same week, wildlife officials reported a captured python in Hardee County.

The Hardee python was a female, weighing more than 130 pounds. She was carrying underdeveloped eggs. Wildlife officials couldn’t determine whether the snake laid more fertilized eggs.

The Hardee snake was also thought to have “escaped” captivity.

The state offers pet owners a program where they surrender their pythons and other exotic pets. State wildlife officials hold periodic one-day-only Exotic Pet Amnesty Days. Also, pet owners can call the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-483-4681 for assistance year round. Most exotic pets, including ones held illegally, will be accepted without penalty.


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