Snake hunters in Florida just set a new record, capturing the longest-recorded Burmese python in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. And they did it with their bare hands.
Video captured by one of the hunters shows 22-year-old Jake Waleri diving on the monstrous snake, which was later measured at an astonishing 19 feet, and grabbing it near its head with both hands.
“Let’s go!” Waleri commented at the time.
Hunting and environmentalism often do not go hand in hand, but in this case, hunting Burmese pythons in Florida’s Everglades is beneficial to the local ecosystems, as the pythons are a destructive invasive species that were introduced to Florida accidentally and have wreaked havoc ever since.
The state of Florida even pays people to hunt and kill Burmese pythons, which reproduce rapidly, kill native wildlife, and compete with native wildlife for resources. According to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board website, python hunters can earn $13 to $18 per hour, with an additional incentive payment of $50 for each python measuring up to 4 feet and an additional $25 for each foot measured above 4 feet.
That means that at 19 feet, this record-breaking python earned its captors a $425 bonus.
For the hunters, however, the real reward was helping to protect the Everglades ecosystem.
“It’s awesome to be able to make an impact on South Florida’s environment,” Waleri told the Tampa Bay Times. “We love this ecosystem and try to preserve it as much as possible.”
“It’s pretty terrifying to know that these animals are so destructive to our ecosystem. But knowing that we can go out there and take care of monsters like this and get them out of the Everglades is something that makes me feel good,” Waleri’s partner Stephen Gauta added.
Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.