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State Program Records 500th Python Kill

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

With the state trying to reduce invasive species in areas such as the Everglades, a hunter Thursday killed the 500th Burmese python in less than five months under a South Florida Water Management District program.

Jason Leon of Miami killed the 7-foot snake, according to the water-management district. The program, which started in late March, pays hunters to kill pythons in the Everglades. Officials say pythons can severely damage native wildlife populations.

"Every one of these 500 snakes killed helps ensure the lives of hundreds of native species essential to the Everglades ecosystem," district Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Also Thursday, Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed a bill (SB 168) that would create a state pilot program to try to help eradicate pythons and other invasive species, such as tegu lizards and lionfish.

The bill will be considered during the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January.