Nicholas Banos captures a python in Miami, Florida.
Nicholas Banos captures a python in Miami, Florida. Michael Freifeld

Bounty hunters take the hiss

WITH native wildlife in the Everglades declining rapidly over the past decade because of the introduced burmese python, Florida officials are fighting back.

In the latest strike against the invasive species that is at the top of the food chain in the Everglades, wildlife officials have announced the Python Pickup Program.

Participants who identify the location of a python on state-managed lands - or private lands accessed with the owners' approval - and a photograph of its removal will receive a T-shirt and be entered into monthly prize draws.

It follows last month's announcement by the South Florida Water Management District that it was hiring 25 python hunters for a 60-day pilot program to help rid the Everglades of the snakes.

The hunters receive the minimum wage plus at least $US50 for every 1.2m python killed, and an extra $25 for every extra 30cm.

The conservation commission also holds python hunting contests with cash prizes based on the quantity and length of snakes.

By some estimates, 150,000 of the pythons have invaded the state's 600,000ha of waterways.

The pythons were reportedly first detected in the 1980s, most likely having been dumped by owners.



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