Python Elimination Program
The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board is taking aggressive action to protect the Everglades and eliminate invasive pythons from its public lands. Starting in March 2017, the Python Elimination Program incentivizes a limited number of public-spirited individuals to humanely euthanize these destructive snakes, which have become an apex predator in the Everglades. The program provides access to python removal agents on designated SFWMD lands in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Hendry and Palm Beach counties.
- News Releases
- SFWMD Python Hunters Nearing 2,000 Snakes Eliminated – Jan. 23, 2019
- Ssssseventeen (and a Half) Feet of Snake Sets Python Program Record – Nov. 7, 2018
- SFWMD Python Hunts = Two Miles of Invasive Snakes Eliminated – Oct. 5, 2018
- SFWMD Python Elimination Program Grows Bigger And More Aggressive With Broward and Collier Counties Expansion – June 16, 2017
- SFWMD Governing Board Takes Action to Protect the Everglades – March 9, 2017
- Presentations to SFWMD Governing Board
- Photo Gallery
The charts below track the ongoing progress of program python removal agents. The charts are updated as python removal agents turn in pythons to SFWMD staff for measurement.
Each python removal agent was provided with procedural instruction and field identification guides. Access has been given to SFWMD lands in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Palm Beach counties. Python removal agents will be paid:
- A minimum wage hourly rate up to 10 hours daily. Time spent searching for pythons on SFWMD lands must be verified by a GPS tracking app installed on each python removal agent's iOS or Android mobile device.
- An additional incentive payment of $50 for each python measuring up to 4 feet plus an extra $25 for each foot measured above 4 feet. In the example below, an 8-foot python would pay out $150.
- An additional $200 for each eliminated python found guarding "nests" with eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)
- Northern African Python (Python sebae sebae)
- Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus)
- Southern African Python (Python sebae natalensis)
- Amethystine/Scrub Python (Morelia amethistina)
- Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)
- Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
- Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
- Beni Anaconda (Eunectes beniensis)
- DeSchauensee’s Anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei)
To be eligible, python removal agents must:
- Be at least eighteen (18) years of age
- Possess a valid driver's license
- Possess a valid email address
- Have access to an iOS or Android mobile device that allows for download and utilization of the required GPS tracking app
- Consent to be tracked using the GPS tracking app
- Sign a waiver of liability
- Have not been convicted of a felony or wildlife-related offense within the last five (5) years
- Consent to submit to a criminal background check
- Consent to using an electronic data collection app
- Must have a bank account and agree to receive all payments by direct deposit
Twenty-five to thirty-five (25-35) individuals will be selected to participate.
Python removal agents will have independent access to designated SFWMD properties over the greater portion of Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Palm Beach counties.
Python removal agents will receive $8.46 per hour for up to ten (10) hours each day while actively searching for pythons on SFWMD lands. For all eliminated pythons, the District will make an additional payment per python – $50.00 for pythons measuring up to four (4) feet, and an extra $25.00 for every foot measured above four (4) feet. See example below:
Yes. Firearm use must be consistent with the terms of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) permit issued to SFWMD, as well as local, state and federal regulations.
Python removal agents will be required to download and utilize free cloud-based time and GPS tracking software, along with an electronic data collection system, on their GPS-enabled mobile device while conducting surveys. These will be the methods used to verify python removal agent's time and location while engaging in program activities on SFWMD lands.
No. Registered python removal agents will not need a permit from the FWC.
Yes. Python removal agents may bring up to three (3) unpaid assistants with them while engaging in program activities. Before being allowed to accompany python removal agents onto SFWMD lands, each assistant must:
- Submit a photocopy of their ID
- Sign a liability waiver
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have prior approval by the SFWMD project manager
For more information on hunting Burmese pythons on public and private lands, please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website at myfwc.com/python.
The non-native Burmese python was likely introduced to Florida's Everglades by accidental or intentional releases by pet owners. Once sought-after commodities, pythons have been sold by breeders as pets or showpieces to exotic animal collectors. Since making their way into the bountiful grounds of the Everglades, these giant constrictors have thrived, assuming a top position on the food web.
While researchers have been hard pressed to provide specific population numbers in the Everglades, a rapid number of increased sightings from 2005 to 2010 is concerning. The species was once relegated to only Everglades National Park and Miami-Dade County, but recent tracking shows pythons are moving westward into locations such as Big Cypress National Preserve and northward into Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Burmese pythons possess an insatiable appetite. They can not only kill Florida native prey species and pose a threat to humans, but also rob panthers, birds of prey, alligators and bobcats of a primary food source.
A University of Florida study published in 2015 researched invasive pythons' impact on indigenous food sources. Researchers released 95 adult marsh rabbits in areas of the Everglades known to harbor pythons. Within 11 months of the release, the study showed that pythons accounted for 77 percent of rabbit deaths, reducing prey for native predators.