TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A group of alligator hunters made a different kind of catch while out scouting in Brevard County Sunday.
NBC affiliate WESH reported that Stillwaggon, her boyfriend Chuckie Burgess, and married couple Carlee and Jay Stickland were out in southern Brevard County when they came across a 12-foot Burmese python.
“Jay seen it in the road,” Stillwaggon told WESH. “He was like, ‘that’s a snake.’ He did not know that it was a python, just a huge snake, because we never see pythons in this part of Florida.”
The group said they “jumped out like John Wayne” to catch the snake, killing it in a two-minute struggle.
“I had no idea that it was a python,” Carlee Strickland said. “I just saw a giant snake, and that in itself was kinda crazy. I was scared. I don’t do snakes, I was scared.”
Wildlife experts said they are concerned with the python’s presence in Brevard County due to their status as an invasive apex predator. Usually, they’re found “from just south of Lake Okeechobee to Key Largo and from western Broward County west to Collier County,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“We have seen some significant population changes through native species because of the introduction of the Burmese python and they can have a catastrophic effect because of how large and how much of an apex predator they can be,” said Mack Ralbovsy with the Brevard Zoo.
If you see a Burmese python, the FWC suggests taking a photo and reporting the sighting and location by calling the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681).