A contract hunter working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Python Removal Program discovered a 12-foot Burmese python and 39 eggs in a nest in the Everglades.
The snake and eggs were discovered near a canal in the Everglades’ Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area.
Florida Fish and Wildlife made the announcement in a Facebook post on Friday. The agency celebrated the catch, noting that the “successful removal of so many pythons will greatly benefit the Everglades ecosystem.”
Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and can grow to become one of the largest snakes on Earth, weighing hundreds of pounds. While they’re not venomous, the pythons have no natural enemies in their new environment and voraciously attack native species in the Florida everglades, including mammals, birds, adult deer and alligators.
Florida wildlife authorities have hunted the snakes for decades, believing them to have originated in the state as pets before being released — accidentally or intentionally.
Semiaquatic, the snakes are often found by water or in trees.
The Miami Herald reports that Florida has paid hunters to track and humanely kill Burmese pythons in this manner since 2009. Since the start of the program, the state has paid out $24,000 in hourly wages to the hunters and an additional $25,000 in bounties. Bounties are rewarded for number of snakes caught and for snakes over four feet long.