Is Python Hunt Working?

August 31st, 2009 by

MIAMI — It’s been over a month since the state-sponsored python hunt kicked off, but only a handful of the reptiles have been caught. Local 10 went along to find out firsthand what hunters face in their search for the invasive reptile.
Hunter Josh Zarmati showed Local 10’s Jonathan Vigliotti how he hunts in the Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area. The two ventured into the Everglades on Wednesday night.
“I do this because I love the Everglades and I hate to see them destroyed, whether it be by liter or invasive species,” Zarmati told Vigliotti as they off-roaded in a pickup truck.
Zarmati grew up near the Everglades. He said in the past two decades he witnessed the python population grow from zero to an estimated 150,000.
“They don’t belong here. The Burmese is eating anything it can get its mouth on: alligators, rabbits, foxes, you name it. They are throwing off the balance here.”
About 10 miles into the drive, Zarmati pulled off the side of a road to search a tree.
“I’ve seen pythons around here before,” Zarmati explained.
A 10-minute search produced nothing. The journey continued.
It’s believed pet owners introduced the python to the Everglades by dumping the snake there when they grew too big.
On July 15, Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida Fish and Wildlife announced the first ever state-sponsored python hunt, an effort to eradicate the invasive species from the Everglades.
Zarmati is one of only 13 licensed hunters permitted to do this on a volunteer basis. The results have been mediocre at best. Only 14 snakes have been caught since the hunt began. Of those, Zarmati said he caught six.
After a 15-mile drive Zarmati, along with Vigliotti, set off on foot using a flashlight to survey trees, bushes, rocks and swamp.
“It feels like you’re trying to find a needle in a haystack. I’m looking for their shiny skin,” Zarmati said.
Zarmati said hunters don’t get paid for catching the snakes. The FWC requires hunters to kill snakes on site and record the location where they were found.
“We’re allowed to to sell the skin but they don’t go for much. I do this because I love it,” he said.
After three hours on foot, Zarmati spotted a raccoon, which he called a good sign.
“Him being in the tree makes me wonder if there’s a python in on the bottom. I’m going to check it out,” he said.
Zarmati used his flashlight to expose leaves and vegetation near the base of the tree. Again, no python. During the four-mile hike Zarmati found a corn snake, even a baby aligator, but not one python.
“It’s hit or miss. Sometimes you find them. Sometimes you don’t,” Zarmati said.
He called it a quits at 1 a.m.
He did the math on the way back. 150,000 snakes. 13 hunters. Only 14 pythons have been caught. And after four hours of hunting, he found zero.
These statistics raise a number of questions. Is the state-sponsored hunt really just a so-called snake and pony show? Is all this hunting in vain? Are pythons here to stay forever? Not if Zarmati can help it.
“We need more qualified hunters to help. I’ll be back out here tomorrow looking for snakes.”
Officials say the pilot program is giving them a better understanding of what it will take to eradicate the python. The FWC will meet on Oct. 31 to reasses the program. They said changes will likely be made.

2 Responses

  1. One Bad Ass Python

    If I had an ass, I would tell you stupid fat plodding hillbilly Floridians to kiss it. I will go where ever the hell I please and you pussies will continue to keep your distance. Just yesterday I went to go see that WW2 movie (front row seat) and what a uni-dimensional pile of shiz that was. I should have asked for a refund.

  2. Dickdog

    THEY WILL NEVER CATCH MY TROSER Snake ! I can’t even hold it down !!!!

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