Florida Man catches 2,000th python snake in program
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INDIANTOWN, Fla. (CBS12) — A local man has claimed a unique distinction.
He hunts wild snakes as part of a state program to rid the Everglades of pythons and he’s just done something no one else has.
“I guess I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junkie and I get a lot of pride from what I do. I really do. I love it,” python hunter Mike Kimmel said.
Kimmel makes a living hunting pythons. He’s a professional animal trapper and owns Martin County Trapping and Wildlife Rescue. He says he goes to the Everglades usually once or twice a week, battling mosquitoes, looking for these big elusive snakes.
“I usually have to dance around the snake to stay behind it, because they like to double back on you and try to strike at you,” he said.
Doesn’t he worry about getting bitten?
“Getting bit is a part of the job," Kimmel said. "It’s not that big of a deal. It hurts a little bit."
Kimmel is one of the snake hunters who’s taking part in the South Florida Water Management District’s python elimination program to rid the Everglades of these non-native snakes that are destroying wildlife there. Everything from raccoons to alligators. On Monday morning at 3 a.m., deep in the Everglades, he caught the 2,000th python since the program started two years ago.
“It kind of tried to scurry away so I grabbed its tail," he said. "From there it tried to kind of strike at me. I let it strike once or twice and then I was able to get the right moment where I could grab behind its head and secure it from there."
He now has that 2,000th python---which measures 7 feet long---in his freezer. The state will pay him $125 for it.
Kimmel estimates he’s caught between 100 and 200 pythons and he showed CBS12 News some of the snake skins.
“It’s fun, you know what I mean? We have a really good time doing it and we take a lot of pride in helping our Everglades,” he said.
Kimmel believes the program is working.
“I don’t think we’re ever gonna get rid of ‘em, but we can’t just stand by," he said. "We’re managing the population, we’re stopping the spread and we’re giving our native wildlife a fighting chance."
The program, which started two years ago, pays hunters by the hour to hunt for pythons in the Everglades and they get cash for each python they get, depending on how long it is.
According to Kimmel, experts believe there may be 100,000 pythons in the Everglades, so there’s still a lot more work to be done catching them.