MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Two snake hunters have captured the largest python recorded in Florida history.
Kevin “Snakeaholic” Pavlidis and Ryan Ausburn caught the almost 19-foot Burmese python in the Florida Everglades.
Pavlidis is an alligator wrestler at Everglades Holiday Park and a python contractor with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
Ausburn is also a python contractor with the state.
They captured the snake on Oct. 2, and after measurements were completed, FWC confirmed it was the largest on record.
State officials say the snake was a female that weighed 102 lbs.
Because pythons are invasive in Florida, it was required that the snake be humanely euthanized.
Python hunts are licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, with only about 100 snake hunters specially trained to capture and kill the pythons.
The state supports the hunts because the pythons don’t belong in Florida.
“The reason that they are such a problem here in Florida is because they are invasive. They are negatively impacting our natural resources by consuming native birds, mammals, and reptiles,” McKayla Spencer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
FWC says pet owners did not realize how big pythons got, and first started releasing them in South Florida back in the 1970s.
Now, they say, the population is out of control.
“We regularly are catching and removing pythons that are over ten feet in length. There is nothing in the entire United States that gets that big. No snakes that big. So our native wildlife have no idea what to do with this invasive animal,” McKayla said.
The python hunters are paid by the state with the amount depending on the size of the snake.