MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A Homestead man captured a 17.5-foot Burmese python while hunting in the Everglades in Miami-Dade County this week, authorities said.
Hunter Kyle Penniston caught the 120-pound female snake late Monday.
The capture was part of the South Florida Water Management District's Python Elimination Program. As part of the elimination program, state officials are working with hunters like Kyle Penniston to combat the pythons. Penniston has already eliminated more than 200 of the snakes, making him one of the program's most prolific hunters.
Officials said hunters in the program have only captured two other pythons that large. Burmese pythons are an invasive species that eat native mammals and endanger the Everglades ecosystem, state officials said.
Some scientists said efforts of sanctioned python hunters, who have eliminated hundreds of snakes over the last several years, are making a small dent in the population.
"Just six months after eliminating the first 1,000 pythons from district lands, this program is about to double that total because of a true team effort," said Mike Kirkland, the project manager for the Python Elimination Program. "District staff and a dedicated group of hunters are working to help control this invasive species and protect native wildlife."