Ian Bartoszek, a biologist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and his team track Burmese pythons in southwest Florida.

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After struggling to cull the invasive Burmese python, Florida officials are striking back

The agency is hiring 25 professional snake hunters to kill the pythons

CNN  — 

Enough is enough with the Burmese pythons. It’s time to call in the professionals.

The South Florida Water Management District wants to hire 25 snake hunters to try to cull the invasive species. The agency will start taking applications Friday morning.

The pythons “are literally eating their way through the Everglades of our native wildlife,” conservation biologist and reptile expert Joe Wasilewski told CNN affiliate WPLG.

The $175,000 pilot project would last for two months and employ experts to track the pythons – the hardest part of hunting them – and kill them.

Hunters would earn $50 for pythons up to 4 feet long, plus $25 for each additional foot. They’d get an extra $100 per python found guarding nests with eggs.

“You let them loose, each one of them is going to catch 100 snakes in a year – times 25,” Wasilewski told WPLG.

The program aims to copy the success of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s decision to bring in two professional Indian snake hunters.

Burmese pythons have multiplied in the Everglades after being released by negligent pet owners.

Until now, the fight in Miami-Dade County has been fought by amateur hunters.

A program last year dubbed the “Python Challenge” invited amateurs to kill or capture pythons, bring them to a special site to have them euthanized, then let hunters sell the skin and meat for a profit.