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Francis Rooney Headed on Everglades Python Hunt

July 17, 2017 - 5:15pm

On top of “Florida congressman,” U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney plans to add a new line to his resume: python hunter.

On Monday, Rooney announced he would leave the hustle and bustle of D.C. behind and head to the swamp-ridden Florida Everglades to participate in the South Florida Water Management District’s annual python hunt, taking out the invasive species wreaking havoc on the Florida Everglades one snake at a time.

Rooney will be the newest hunter in the SFWMD’s “Python Elimination Program,” which incentivizes members of the public to hunt and kill pythons, an invasive species with population numbers topping 150,000 in South Florida.

Pythons are devouring virtually everything that moves in the Everglades, including native Florida alligators. Marsh rabbits, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, deer, great blue herons, wood storks all have disappeared as a result of the feverish appetite of the pythons, leaving behind a desolate ecosystem.

“Innovative ideas such as the Python Elimination Program incentivize members of the public to assist in removing this invasive species and remind us that we all have a vested interest in restoring the Everglades,” Rooney said in a statement.

Rooney said he hopes his participation in the hunt will lead to more publicity about all issues affecting the Everglades, not just the area’s massive python problem.

Francis Rooney
Francis Rooney

Python hunting isn’t a walk in the park, either -- hunters spend countless hours, for days on end, in the hot Florida summer sun, searching for pythons which may not even appear.

Hunters head out early in the morning for the best chance at spotting a python and will scour the sawgrass-filled marshes all day long for the snakes. 

Since there is no other way to eradicate pythons, SFWMD has to get rid of them the only way they know how: with their bare hands. The aim of the program is to kill pythons, but killing female pythons is slightly more lucrative since they carry eggs to hatch more pythons causing problems in the Everglades. 

"Eliminating one snake from the Everglades is much more than a single kill.” said Dan O’Keefe, SFWMD Governing Board Chairman. “It's the prevention of 40 to 50 more snakes by destroying a large female carrying 40 to 50 eggs and it's the countless number of native Florida animals spared from the jaws of these killing-machines."
SFWMD initially only opened up the python hunt to 25 professional hunters, but recently expanded the hunt to include amateurs and average Joes who just want to bag a snake.

Rooney won’t be the first Florida politician to head out on a python hunting excursion. In May, Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera embarked on the snake hunt, ultimately killing a 15-foot python with a pocketknife.

Rooney will head to the Everglades Aug. 10 for the hunt.



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.



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Make it an open season all year and stop putting regulations on everything

What happens to the meat and skins?

This is kinda like politicians "visiting" inner-city "ghetto areas" to "seekout and press-the-flesh": THIS is a better and more relaxing jaunt for pettifoggers though, because Burmese Pythons don't ask "the hard questions" (and you can legally dispatch them if they get too close);...AND receive a "bounty" to boot! [Beats a taxpayer-paid trip to Cuba too ! ]

Yawn. I have said it for years. Put a bounty on them that would make it worthwhile for the men (and women) that would actually kill them to go do it. $250 for one snake. That would get the young schoolteacher to run one over on her way to work. And put it in the trunk to get the reward. $500 per snake for up to ten. And 1,000 per snake for over ten. Enough money and those folks would go get them. Don't worry about money. We run short simply print more. Altho I understand that Illinois script is being rejected.

Imagine, if you will, how productive a "bounty on snakes" would be within the confines of the Washington, D.C. "swamp"..!

Photo Op or Sportsman trying to help? If it is a regular guy, he's a redneck. If it is a politician, he's an interested person wanting to take part and further a cause. Talk about what real people are doing!

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