Hunters search Everglades for invasive Burmese pythons

EVERGLADES, Fla. (WSVN) — A team of snake hunters is searching the Everglades for Burmese pythons in an effort to rid the area of the invasive species.

Officials said the mission is a win for everyone, and hunter Donna Kalil can attest that the search for the pythons requires all of your senses.

“You look for animal signs, you look for trails,” Kalil said. “That’s the smell of a snake, very faint, but a python, everybody’s going to smell it.”

She is trying to find as many Burmese pythons as she can over the next two months. “It’s $25 for a snake, I believe, up to four feet, and then I think it’s $25 per a foot after that,” she said.

She and other hunters have been commissioned by the South Florida Water Management District because the pythons are invasive and have been eating everything from turtles to birds and even deer. Officials said they’re destroying the Everglades.

“We’ve done the most damage, so the little bit of land that they have left, please leave it to the natives,” Kalil said, “don’t release your snakes out here.”

While there is a cash reward, Kalil is not in it for the money. “They were decimating the environment. I figured, ‘Hey, if I can get a couple, that would be a great adventure, and I’ll be able to help the environment.’ I love the Everglades.”

When hunting for snakes, Kalil likes to search along the water’s edge, but if she doesn’t find snakes there, she said she crawls through hammocks.

“This is reliving my childhood,” she said. “I used to live in the woods as a kid, after school. I’d just come and climb through hardwood hammock. It’s my favorite ecosystem.”

By immersing herself in the nature of the Everglades, Kalil believes she can search for the big hunter. “I’ve caught four, so I’m looking to make it at least five today,” Kalil said.

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