Pythons are consuming alligators and every thing else in Florida. Snake hunters stand poised to assist.


The primary python Siewe nabbed measured greater than 10 ft. “I caught it on my own, sporting flip-flops,” Siewe stated, noting she discovered it in the midst of a Florida freeway. 

She disoriented the snake by putting a pillowcase over its head, then put the snake within the trunk of her Camry.

The most important python Siewe has caught was 17 ft, 3 inches, and weighed 110 kilos. 

“I jumped on her in a ditch on the aspect of the highway, all 17 ft of her,” Siewe stated. “She had the largest snake head I had ever seen. That was an actual battle of power.”

Amongst these dealing with off towards Siewe on this yr’s Florida Python Problem: fellow skilled python hunter, and defending problem champion, Dusty Crum. A Florida native, Crum, 42, snagged the longest python within the competitors’s skilled class final yr, catching a 16-foot python. In 2016, he was a part of a three-man staff that took prime honors within the problem, catching 33 pythons.

“Loads of it’s luck, however it’s additionally about being in the precise place on the proper time,” Crum stated. “It’s anyone’s recreation.” 

Snake hunters use a wide range of gear to get the job achieved, starting from snake hooks to particular carry luggage to an array of lights that may spot the reptiles at the hours of darkness of night time. 

To arrange for this yr’s problem, Crum is using his fastidiously curated assortment of snake-catching expertise.

“With regards to the problem, it’s weapons blazing,” Crum stated. “I’m making an attempt to make the most of all my gear: little geo-trackers, four-wheelers. I’ve acquired swamp buggies, monster vehicles with huge tires on them. We outfit these with lights on and I’ll be capable of entry locations most of the people can’t get to.” 

Dusty Crum holds a snake in Florida in 2017.Courtesy Lisette Morales McCabe

Python looking, Crum and Siewe stated, just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart. Whereas pythons aren’t venomous, they’re highly effective — and recognized to chew. 

“They’ve acquired a whole bunch of enamel, and after they chew you it’s like needle pricks,” Crum stated. “The worst factor that may occur is when the tooth breaks off and will get caught in you, and it will get contaminated.”

Siewe stated she’s been bitten too many occasions to rely. “A 14-footer bit me on my hand. I’ve been bitten on my butt, on my calf. Fortunately, I haven’t been bitten on my face.”

Like Crum, Siewe says she works to repurpose parts of the pythons she catches. “I exploit the leather-based to make Apple watch bands,” she stated.

Crum and Siewe each say they’re “in it to win it” relating to this yr’s problem. 

Neither plan on getting a lot sleep in the course of the competitors, as pythons are nocturnal, that means the perfect time for looking is late at night time. 

Nonetheless, they stated, the true purpose of the problem has much less to do with any particular person victories they may rating, and much more to do with the larger trigger each say they’re preventing — and looking — for. 

“This isn’t a trophy hunt or a sport hunt,” Crum explains. “That is an environmental hunt. It’s looking to save lots of our surroundings. It’s a particular feeling when it’s man versus beast, preventing for the atmosphere.”

No people within the U.S. have been killed by pythons, however loads of pets have, and wildlife officers fear pythons will destroy whole populations of Florida native species in the event that they’re not stopped. Among the many mammals within the Everglades that pythons are decimating: marsh rabbits, raccoons, foxes, deer and bobcats. 

“The Burmese python is among the largest snakes on the earth, able to reaching 20 ft lengthy, and due to our local weather the pythons are in a position to thrive in Florida by preying on our wildlife,” Kirkland stated. “In some areas of Florida, as much as 95% of fur-bearing animal populations have disappeared.”

The pythons are even consuming Florida alligators. 

Python incentives and education specialist Robert Edman demonstrates how to catch a python during an event promoting the Florida Python Challenge on Dec. 5, 2019.
Python incentives and schooling specialist Robert Edman demonstrates methods to catch a python throughout an occasion selling the Florida Python Problem on Dec. 5, 2019.Al Diaz / Miami Herald through Getty Pictures file

“The pythons are generalists,” stated McKayla Spencer, Florida’s Interagency python administration coordinator. “They’ll eat something.”

Pythons made their first look within the Everglades within the Nineteen Seventies, seemingly a results of a pet snake being launched into the wild, however the inhabitants didn’t explode till the Nineteen Nineties. 

That’s when Hurricane Andrew struck Florida, destroying, amongst different issues, a number of python breeding amenities. Kirkland stated there’s no definitive proof that the destruction of breeding farms is accountable for the explosion of Florida’s python inhabitants. “But it surely didn’t assist,” he acknowledged.

There’s no official estimate of what number of pythons there are in Florida, owing to their stealth nature. 

“They’re very onerous to search out,” Spencer stated. “For each one python we discover, there are 99 extra on the market.”

More and more, Spencer stated, pythons are displaying up in individuals’s yards and boats, because the snakes actually swallow increasingly Florida territory.  

That’s the place human hunters are available in.  

“I’ve at all times had this obsessive fascination with snakes and reptiles since I used to be little and my dad taught me to catch fish,” Siewe stated. “I believed, ‘Why isn’t this ardour [for] puppies or kittens or one thing regular?’ It’s not — it’s snakes.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Friday MEGA MILLIONS® jackpot is $660 million