Hunting Pythons in Florida, for Benefit and Medicine

Hunting Pythons in Florida, for Benefit and Medicine

The Burmese python is an invasive species that has been damaging Florida’s wetland ecosystems for decades.


Enrique Galan is rarely happy when he disappears deep into the Everglades to hunt the Burmese python, an invasive species that has been damaging Florida’s wetland ecosystem for decades.

While not working at his job organizing cultural events in Miami, the 34-year-old spends his time tracking the nocturnal reptiles of Southeast Asia.

He does so as a professional hunter, hired by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to help control the python population, which is estimated to number in the thousands.

At night, Galen drives slowly for miles on paved roads and gravel tracks, his flashlight playing on grassy ledges and tree roots, and along waterways where crocodile eyes occasionally shine.

He charges $13 per hour and an additional fee per python found: $50 if it is up to four feet (1.2 m), plus $25 more for each additional foot.

But this August night they have another excitement.

FWC is holding a 10-day python-hunting competition, with 800 people participating. Professional and amateur hunters – the prize is $2,500 for the one who finds and kills the most pythons in each category.

And Galen would love to win that money to celebrate the arrival of his newborn baby, Jesus.

– Pets released into the wild –

Burmese pythons, originally brought to the United States as pets, have become a threat to the Everglades since humans released them into the wild in the late 1970s.

The snake has no natural predators, and feeds on other reptiles, birds and mammals such as raccoons and white-tailed deer.

“They are a wonderful hunter,” Galen says in admiration.

Species in the Everglades average six to nine feet tall, but finding them at night in more than 1.5 million acres (607,000 ha) of wetlands requires skill and patience.

Galen has a trained eye, as well as the courage and determination required for the job. After two unsuccessful nights, he sees a shadow on the shoulder of Highway 41: he jumps out of his truck and lunges at Beast, a baby Burmese python.

To avoid being bitten, hold it behind the head and put it in a cloth bag and tie it with a knot. He would kill it with a BB gun hours later.

A few miles ahead, a giant python slithers across the tarmac. Galen hits his truck again but this time the snake escapes into the grass, leaving behind a strong musky odor, a defense mechanism.

therapy for some

Galen took an online training course before hunting pythons, but says he learned everything he learned from 65-year-old Tom Rahill, who founded the Swamp Apes Association 15 years ago to help war veterans learn about python hunting. To help you deal with painful memories.

For a few hours, Rahm Levinson, an Iraq War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, hunts with Rahil and Galan.

“It really helped me through a lot of the stuff I was struggling with at home,” he said.

“I can’t sleep at night and having someone at 12 o’clock, two in the morning to go out and catch a python is something productive and good.”

Galen is proud to have participated in a project that has killed more than 17,000 pythons since 2000.

“One of the best things I get from it is the amount of beauty I’m surrounded by right now. If you look closely, open your eyes and see, you’ll see a lot of magic here.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Indian Lekhak

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