BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Two Burmese python hunters from Fort Lauderdale broke a Florida record with an 18.9-foot female phyton.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Rodney Barreto said catching the “behemoth Burmese python” was “a triumph.”
The hunters, Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis, are government contractors who were tasked with reducing the population of the invasive species. They work for the FWC and the South Water Management District.
“Every single python that we take out is one less consuming our native wildlife, and that is what’s it’s all about," Pavlidis said.
Last week, they were deep in the Everglades. It was dark off of the L-28 Tieback canal. Ausburn was driving Pavlidis' tricked-out Ford Escape.
“I happened to see that pattern, and I kind of went by it and just stopped,” Ausburn said.
Pavlidis was standing on a fabricated metal platform that is attached to the Ford Escape.
“The second he hits the brakes, instinctively I flip around," Pavlidis said. “The second I turned, my heart dropped out of my chest.”
The python was in the water.
“I don’t know if I could sleep at night losing one that big," Ausburn said. “As tough as it was, there was no way I was letting her go."
Angela Scarfuro was with them recording the hunt. Her video shows the pair struggled with the snake as they hoisted it onto higher ground. Ausburn held its head while Pavlidis took its tail.
Officials with the FWC and SFWMD said the python was the largest hunters had ever caught and removed from the Everglades. The FWC and SFWMD reported hunters with the elimination program have removed more than 5,000 pythons from the Everglades ecosystem.