COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The capture of a 17-foot Burmese python carrying 73 eggs has received more than 9,700 shares since it was posted on Facebook on April 5.
Wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said the catch is thanks to radio tracking males of the invasive species.
"To get to that size, it makes you wonder how much they have consumed of our native wildlife," Bartoszek said.
He's concerned about a severe reduction in the mammal population in the eastern Everglades due to being hunted by the pythons.
But now human hunters are finding success in catching the predators by implanting radio tracking devices in male pythons. Armed with a receiver, python hunters follow the radio beacon sent from the implanted snakes.
"And then the game is afoot," Bartoszek said. "You play and hide-and-seek game out in the landscape, tracking them."
He said they implant male pythons during their breeding season from November to March.
"In the breeding season, the males only have one thing on their minds - looking for large female pythons," Bartoszek said. "They're pretty much a heat-seeking missile to large females snakes."
Bartoszek said there is no way of knowing how many Burmese pythons are in South Florida, but believes the radio tracking technique is one of the most reliable methods of finding them. He looks forward to improved methods in the future.
"We're hoping that as we follow the science in the future, it will lead us to smarter technology which will be just as effective across the landscape," he said.