Florida to hire more python hunters, expand their territory

In this Sept. 30, 2015, file photo, a Burmese python is held before being bagged during a demonstration by the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission to promote the upcoming Python Challenge in Davie, Fla. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials announced Monday, April 24, 2017, new incentives to report and remove the Burmese pythons blamed for decimating populations of native animals. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) Florida is hiring more python hunters and expanding the area where they can stalk the invasive snakes.

The South Florida Water Management District started paying minimum wage to 25 hunters in March to kill pythons on its property in Miami-Dade County.

The Sun Sentinel reports that the district’s board decided Thursday to hire more hunters and extend their hunting grounds into district property in Broward and Collier counties.

So far, the state-paid hunters have killed 158 pythons. They’re paid $8.10 an hour and earn bonuses based on the length of each snake they kill.

The district originally set aside $175,000 for the pilot program, but less than $50,000 has been used up so far.

Pythons are blamed for declining mammal populations in the Everglades.

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