Professional python hunter uses hunting dogs to track down reptiles invading Florida’s swamps

(WSVN) - A professional python hunter is using some four-legged helpers to sniff out snakes hiding in Florida’s swamps.

He uses a team of trained dogs to hunt invasive species of pythons.

Mike Kimmel is a trapper, snake hunter and conservationist who specializes in capturing invasive species that are running amok in South Florida’s swamps, including pythons, iguanas and monitors.

Kimmel said that what makes him different from other python hunters is that he uses a pack of trained dogs, particularly his dog Moose.

“So, me and Moose, we make a great team together. He stays close with me when we’re hunting pythons, hopefully a little bit in front of me, slowly putting his nose to the ground, working a scent trail, taking me to where he thinks the python is, and when he finds that python he stops, locks in on it, and naturally points at it, kind of like a bird dog. That’s when I know it’s time for me to go in, go hands-on with the python and get it out of the ecosystem,” he said.

Kimmel said that Moose has shown great success in hunting pythons in the short amount of time he started using him. He said that he’s been working with Moose to hunt down invasive reptiles since he was a puppy, and he has come to understand the mission to keep them out of Florida’s wetlands.

However, Kimmel feels that although he and Moose are being successful in removing pythons from swamps, they’re barely managing the problem because while some of the native wildlife has returned in the areas they’re focusing on, the python infestation is getting worse everywhere else.

“To me, I feel using dogs, using new technologies is gonna be a game-changer. These pythons are adapting, and we need to keep adapting with them,” he said.

At the moment, Florida does not allow state-contracted trappers to use dogs in any of its python programs. Kimmel said the state should reconsider because of how effective hunting dogs are.

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