Florida hunters bag a python measuring more than 17 feet

As if Florida's python problem couldn't get any bigger, one of the largest snakes found yet in the wild was killed Thursday north of Lake Okeechobee.

The constrictor, found and destroyed on the grounds of Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital, stretched 17 feet, 2 inches and weighed in at a staggering 207 pounds. That's four pounds more than the Miami Dolphins' brawny No. 1 draft pick, Vontae Davis. It measured 26 inches in diameter.

"The capture of this large python shows us how well these snakes can thrive in the wild and create a dangerous situation after illegal release or escape,'' Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a statement. "It also illustrates why the FWC is partnering with other agencies to implement python control measures in South Florida.''

On July 17, the FWC began an experimental permit program that allows reptile experts to capture and euthanize Burmese pythons on state-managed lands around the Everglades. So far, the effort has bagged five pythons and the agency intends to add to the seven existing snake hunters in coming weeks.

The program will end on Oct. 31, and the agency will evaluate data before deciding whether to continue or expand it.

Wildlife officers scanned the python but did not find a microchip, which is required for Burmese pythons kept as pets.

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