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Published: Sunday, May 14, 2017 @ 1:37 PM
By: WHIO Digital Staff
A Florida snake hunter has rounded up the largest python yet during the state’s current project aimed at culling the invasive species from the surrounding landscape.
Dusty “Wildman” Crum, an orchid dealer in Venice Fla., used his bare hands to gather and corral the 16-foot, 10-inch snake during a hunt earlier this week.
“Biggest snake I ever caught in my life right there!” Crum told local media.
On April 25, Crum was also the hunter that marked the 50th snake takedown during the state’s program.
Crum is part of a group of hunters paid by the South Florida Water Management District to track down the invasive snakes that are eradicating native wildlife such as birds, deer and even alligators. The district pays hunters minimum wage -- $8.10 per hour -- to hunt and kill the pythons, but incentives of $50 for a 4-footer and $25 for each additional foot can add up.
Other state agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also have programs that are actively hunting the massive snakes.
Burmese pythons are at the top of the food chain in the Everglades, eating their way north and south and facing no natural predators.
In December, researchers determined a 15-foot female python had eaten three white-tailed deer in the 90 days before its capture, because their hooves were still in its stomach.
“They are ambush predators,” Crum said. “The bird, the rabbit, the otter, they are going to lose every time.”
The 16-footer Crum captured also had a nice surprise -- 78 eggs that would have added to the problem in the area.
“We’re making a difference by taking the eggs out of the ecosystem” Crum said.
The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.