The Wasilewskis and Squires continued their search along the levee, planning to cover both sides of the canal. The elder snake hunter was asked for some helpful hints for the many newbies who will be competing in the Python Challenge.
Faster when warm
You see em, you gotta grab em, Joe said. When its warm, theyre faster. The second you grab whatever part of it, it is going to try to bite you. Thats not a maybe.
He noted the snakes are non-venomous, but armed with multiple sets of razor-sharp teeth that curve inward.
They wont kill you, but you might bleed a lot, he said. Medically, the person should be updated with their tetanus shots.
As for what a hunter should do if the snake coils around them, he advised: Grab the tail and go counterclockwise.
Wasilewski said he doesnt believe the month-long hunt will do much to knock down the python population, but he still thinks its a good idea.
Even if they catch 200 or 300 snakes, its insignificant compared to the overall population, he said. But any female they take out, thats minus 30 eggs. Every one you pull out, its one less for reproduction. I hope they pull out a lot, but I dont think they will.
The Wasilewskis found no more pythons Friday, despite walking six miles and covering both sides of the C-110. They gave the one they caught to Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida in Davie, who said he planned to fit it with a transmitter and release it to ferret out more snakes.
At Saturdays kickoff, Ron Bergeron, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner, said, I see this as an environmental hunt where the public can participate to save our beautiful Everglades.
Contestants are restricted to four state wildlife management areas. Acceptable firearms include pistols, rim-fire rifles and shotguns no center-fire rifles. Hunters must provide precise information on where they kill a python. Killing a native snake, hunting in a prohibited area, or posting photos or videos online showing inhumane or illegal activities will result in disqualification. The FWC said it will put on extra law enforcement patrols at the hunting grounds.
Jeff Fobb, a volunteer with the Nature Conservancy, drew a large crowd at Saturdays event as he demonstrated on a 13-foot python how to wrangle one of the serpents.
The first 80 percent is putting your hands on an animal this size, Fobb said, holding the snake by the head and tail. You dont wait for the animal to wrap around your torso.
But, someone in the crowd asked, what if it does?
Replied Fobb: Dont let it.
Hunter Marty Zonkos of Port St. Lucie said he has no intention of attempting to overpower a large snake.
I jumped on an alligator once, Zonkos said, and it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.