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Removing Pythons in Florida

Python hunting

The Burmese python is an invasive species which negatively impacts native wildlife in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida. The FWC is encouraging the public to help manage this nonnative constrictor.

Pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission - no permit or hunting license required - and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.

The FWC wants the public to help remove invasive species such as the Burmese python and has removed obstacles to killing pythons year-round. Burmese pythons and other nonnative reptiles may be humanely killed without a permit or hunting license at any time throughout the year, except by use of traps or firearms (unless provided for by specific area regulations) on the following Commission-managed areas.  Do not enter areas posted as “Closed to Public Access.”

Humane Methods for Killing Pythons

There is an ethical obligation to ensure a Burmese python is killed in a humane manner that results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the brain. Here are several ways to accomplish this, including using a captive bolt or a firearm to destroy the snake’s brain quickly and completely.

To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye (Farris et al. in press). While one person is holding the snake in place, position the captive bolt where those lines intersect. The bolt must enter at a slight angle, not flush to the skull.

A second way is to shoot the snake in the head with a firearm, being sure to use a safe but effective caliber and making sure that you destroy the snake’s brain. The bullet must be placed in the same area as the captive bolt. To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye. The intersection of these lines is your target.

Although not the recommended method of euthanizing pythons, cranial concussion (stunning) by skilled personnel followed by decapitation is considered an acceptable method of killing large snakes by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) if immediately followed by brain destruction. Use a machete or other appropriately sharp tool. The tool selected should be capable of decapitating the snake as efficiently as possible. Keep in mind if you choose this method, you must quickly follow up by destroying the brain with the use of a firearm, captive bolt or other effective method such as pithing.

To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye. The intersection of these lines is your target.

Regardless of the technique you choose, make sure your technique results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the Burmese python's brain. 

Id of Burmese pythons

Live pythons may not be removed from these areas. However, python skins or meat may be kept and/or sold. 

PLEASE NOTE: Burmese pythons from Everglades National Park have been found to have very high levels of mercury; therefore meat from pythons harvested in Florida may not be recommended for human consumption.