The South Florida Water Management District has voted to double the number of hunters in its Python Elimination Program.
The program was launched in 2017 and is responsible for the removal of more than 2,500 snakes since then. In a vote of confidence, the governing board also decided to triple the program's funding.
"This is for all of us who love the Everglades," SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss wrote in a statement. "Gov. DeSantis loves the Everglades and directed us to leave no stone unturned to eradicate this predator that threatens native Everglades species."
Goss' comments reference a directive last month, in which Gov. DeSantis instructed SFWMD to expand its elimination program to fend off the growth of Florida's Burmese python population. The program pays trained python contractors an hourly wage and bounty based on the sizes of the snakes they remove.
Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and have devastated the state's native wildlife. The snakes eat rabbits and birds and compete for food with native predators like bobcats and Florida panthers.
The expansion of the program means there will now be room for 50 python hunters instead of 25. More than 1,000 people have applied for the jobs, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
According to a government website, new applications are not currently being accepted for this round. However, you can click here to fill out an application to be considered for a future python removal opportunity.
The largest python ever captured in the Everglades was 17 feet long and 140 pounds. It was found earlier this year. The state estimates there may be as many as 100,000 pythons living there.
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