Burmese pythons have become one of the Florida Everglades’ most invasive species, wreaking havoc since the early 2000s.
They were brought to Florida and released as part of the exotic pet trade.
Wildlife officials said the snakes have caused devastating consequences to the ecosystem on their climb to the top of the food chain, even threatening the alligator population. And authorities have tried everything to reduce the python numbers, from snake-catching contests to using dogs to track them down.
But the Python Elimination Program, launched by the South Florida Water Management District, has yielded the most success.
One of 25 python hunters hired by the district, Dusty Crum calls himself “Wildman.” He catches the large snakes with his bare hands while barefoot.
“We are out here showing the world what we can do and we are putting in the numbers, putting in the time and trying to make a difference here in the ecosystem,” Crum said.
So far, 68 pythons have been captured and killed this year. Since the program’s start in 2017 over 800 pythons have been eliminated.