PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A possible sighting of a python is leading some to wonder if the snakes are making their way further north.
The sighting took place in late October at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Palm Beach County.
"One of our exotic plant contractors was getting out to do his work, and he jumped out of the boat right next to a large snake," said Rolf Olson, a project leader at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. "Then the supervisor jumped in because the man was scared, but by that time the snake was gone."
A picture of the snake wasn't taken, so officials aren't able to verify if it was a python. However, there was a confirmed sighting of a python at the preserve five years ago.
"In 2016, one of my law enforcement officers ran over a python by accident just two miles south of here, so we do have at least one confirmed sighting of a python here on the refuge," Olson said.
BOYNTON BEACH 🐍 A possible sighting of a python at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is leading some to wonder if pythons are making their way further north.... pic.twitter.com/5hWOrcIYrN— Linnie Supall WPTV (@LinnieSupall) November 9, 2021
Pythons are an invasive species in South Florida that officials have been working for years to eradicate due to their disruption of the ecosystem.
The non-venomous constrictors are usually seen in the Everglades, much further south.
"They're camouflaged and very stealthy, so the detection rate of a python is less than 1 percent," Olson said. "So, every time you see one, there could be another 99 in the area."
The state holds an annual Python Challenge that gives competitors, both novice and advanced, a chance to capture the snakes.