Friday, July 31, 2009

17 Foot Python Caught In Okeechobee

207 Pound Giant Snake Killed

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- A 17-foot-2-inch Burmese python was caught and destroyed on private property of an animal hospital in Okeechobee County Thursday afternoon. The male snake weighed 207 pounds, and measured 26 inches in diameter. Its stomach contents were examined, but nothing identifiable was found inside.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scanned the python but did not find a microchip. As a Reptile of Concern, Burmese pythons must be licensed by FWC's Captive Wildlife Section and implanted with a microchip to be kept as a pet.

FWC worked with the Florida Legislature and the reptile industry to establish and implement tighter restrictions in 2007 to help prevent the escape or release of these exotic species. The new rule requires an annual $100 license and mandatory caging requirements. In addition, Burmese pythons more than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the origin of the animal. 

This rule applies to all Reptiles of Concern, which include Burmese pythons, Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons, amethystine or scrub pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards. It is unlawful to allow one to escape or to release one into the wild.

On July 17, the FWC launched a permit program, allowing reptile experts to capture and kill Burmese pythons on state-managed lands around the Everglades.  To date, seven permits have been issued and five pythons have been captured.  Several more permits will be issued in the coming weeks.  The permit holders must collect data on captured pythons and submit that information to the FWC. 

The program continues until Octobe 31, at which time the FWC will analyze the data and determine if the program should be extended or expanded.

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