By: David Strege | July 8, 2019 6:18 pm – USA Today Sports
The battle against the invasive Burmese python in the Florida Everglades continued over the holiday weekend with the removal of a near-record 16-foot species that was found nesting under an “old cracker camp house.”
An Everglades conservationist and South Florida Water Management District Board member known as “Alligator” Ron Bergeron was called in, and he and friends captured the huge python, along with 40 to 50 eggs in various stages of hatching.
“The Burmese Python poses a significant threat to the Florida Everglades by disrupting the natural food chain,” Bergeron told CBS Miami. “With good fortune, we were able to find a large female, and remove her and an entire nest of up to 50 baby snakes which would have continued killing off our precious habitat.”
Bergeron told CBS Miami that about one-third of the new hatchlings would have likely lived to become adults.
The python was just short a foot of the largest Burmese python captured in the Everglades. That one measured 17 feet and weighed 140 pounds and was carrying 73 eggs.
Pythons were discovered in the Everglades two decades ago and have established a population estimated to be around 100,000. The creatures are causing serious damage to the ecosystem of the Everglades as they feed on native wildlife like deer, bobcats, alligators, possum and rabbits.
The Florida Wildlife Commission and South Florida Water Management District instituted an eradication program that rewards python hunters for catching the invasive species. On June 25, the program celebrated the 500th python removed from the Everglades.
“I want to thank the Governor for making the eradication of the Burmese Python a top priority,” Bergeron told CBS Miami. “He has asked both state agencies to work with our federal partners (Everglades National Park) to find ways to increase access to remote areas so we can engage more qualified personnel to remove this invasive snake.”