Update: 10 pythons in 10 days earns hunters whopping bounties

Ten invasive Burmese pythons have been captured by paid hunters working for the South Florida Water Management District bringing them a total of $2,000 in bonuses based on length.

The hunt, which also pays minimum wage – $8.10 per hour – has been ongoing for 10 days.

The longest snake captured was nearly 16 feet long and 135-pounds. The kill earned hunter Patrick Campbell $350. Hunters Nicholas Baños and Leonardo Sanchez found the second largest snake to date on April 1 at 15 feet 2 inches. This python netted the hunters $325.

“For these hunters to have already eliminated 10 snakes is tremendous, given the fact that simply locating the elusive python is literally like finding a moving, camouflaged needle in a haystack,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe in a press release. “It’s great to see that this Governing Board’s action to challenge this invasive and destructive predator has yielded early results.”

The experimental program is being conducted to see how effective full-time hunters can be in cutting down on the population of pythons in the Everglades. There are 25 participants, who will continue hunting until June.

Hunters earn an immediate $50 bonus for a snake up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot above that.

Just in video: Full-time python hunters nab 14-foot snake

An experimental python hunting program started by the South Florida Water Management District had an early success with the capture of three snakes, including one that was 14-feet long.

The two month program began Saturday with 25 hunters earning minimum wage plus an opportunity for bonuses by length of snake captured.

When the water management district announced its program, more than 1,000 people applied to be part of it.

A python caught this week by full-time hunters working for the South Florida Water Management District.

The job pays $8.10 an hour, plus incentives starting at $50 for a 4-foot-long snake and $25 for each additional foot above that.

A snake found guarding a nest with eggs is worth an additional $100. The district set aside $175,000 for the program.

“A lot of people are just sick that they are here in the first place,” said water management district spokesman Randy Smith about people who applied to be hunters. “There’s not a lot of sympathy for the python.”

On Thursday, Greg Conterio was deep in the Everglades west of Florida City hunting pythons.

He saw a glimmer in a pond and hastily stopped his truck.

Did the 56-year-old paid political activist who is between jobs find a python?

Read the full story and learn more about the innovative python program in The Palm Beach Post. 

Greg Conterio, uses a hook to try and draw out a Burmese python, which escaped in a small pond in Homestead, Fla., on Thursday, Mar. 30, 2017.  (Michael Ares / The Palm Beach Post)

Burmese pythons are at the top of the food chain in the Everglades, with no natural predators and eating their way north and south.

In September, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced python hatchlings were found in Key Largo, while a 10-foot python was found on a levee at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County.

In December, researchers found that 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,” said Nick Aumen, senior science advisor for the southeast region of the U.S. Geological Survey. “They lay in wait for their prey, buried in vegetation. Any pythons that we can remove is good.”