Video: Dusty “Wildman” Crum stalks, kills 16-foot-10-inch python in waning days of snake hunt

Hunters working for the South Florida Water Management District have killed 81 invasive Burmese pythons since the experimental program began March 25.

Dusty “Wildman” Crum kills 16-foot-10-inch python

But the plan, which pays hunters minimum wage plus bonuses, has a sunset date of June 1.

The district’s governing board heard an update this morning on the program, but no recommendations were given as to whether it should continue.

Related: Watch python vs. gator in epic battle 

Rory Feeney, the district’s land resources management chief, said the most recent snake caught was 16-feet-10-inches long and weighed 133 pounds.

It also had 73 eggs.

“By removing that pregnant female, you are removing that many more pythons from the wild,” Feeney said.

The program was budgeted for $175,000 and has so far spent an estimated $32,450, or an average of $413 per python.

Related: Read more about  python hunter Dusty “Wildman” Crum here. 

“While the $413 per python seems like a big number, it is dramatically less than if we would have to out there and catch all those pythons from those eggs,” said district board member Mitch Hutchcraft.

Here are some stats:


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

“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.”

The Water Management District is paying 25 hunters minimum wage — $8.10 per hour — to hunt and kill pythons. They earn incentives starting at $50 for a 4-foot-long snake and $25 for each additional foot above that.

Related: “We had a fight, a real fight” python hunters say

Pythons aren’t venomous. They like to bite, hold and crush, suffocating their prey or pressing so hard on its rib cage that its heart stops.

Before the water management board approved the hunting program, they watched a Palm Beach Post video of a python attacking an alligator in Big Cypress National Preserve in December. The video drew international attention.

“Anyone who has seen the now famous python-vs.-alligator video can attest that the fight for survival of the Everglades is real,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board chairman Dan O’Keefe.

Author: Kimberly Miller

Kimberly grew up outside Washington D.C. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995. Her beats have included K-12 education, universities and colleges, real estate, and general assignment.

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