Catching pythons in the Everglades

I recently got back from a trip to Florida, where I was able to tag along on a python hunt deep into the Everglades. I met up with Gregory Morris around 5 PM for an all-night hunt that took us 20 miles from the nearest road.

Pythons are invasive species in the Everglades. They have decimated the habitat by killing birds, raccoons, otters, and any other animal they can eat. While thousands of pythons are caught each year, only 2% of the everglades are being hunted. Most of the snake’s habitat is impossible for hunters to get to without airboats.

Gregory is employed by the state of Florida to catch pythons. This year the state of Florida raised the number of hunters from 50 to 100 to combat the growing population of pythons. Python hunters make $8.75 an hour plus $50 for every snake 4 feet. For every foot over 4, the hunters get an extra $25. These snakes must be captured by hand then put in a bag to be measured and reported to the Florida Wildlife Commission. They can not just simply shoot the snakes.

The pythons can be over 18 feet long, but those snakes typically take more than one hunter to catch them. The stories I heard from Gregory of one hunter jumping on the back of the snake while the other tries to control the head were hilarious and terrifying!

While I was scared of the alligators that ran off every minute or two, Gregory was comfortable just walking into the marsh. The threat of venomous snakes, spiders, and frogs is something these guys always have to be careful of. It is a dangerous place, but the state of Florida has found passionate hunters that genuinely love to catch snakes and protect the Everglades.