In the battle to stop the spread of Burmese pythons in the Florida everglades, fighting is active on two fronts: hunting and science.
A few volunteer hunters scour the edge of the glades in search of pythons. They don't get paid. They don't even get reimbursed for using their own gasoline and cars.
The scientists, mostly from the United States Geological Survey, the University of Florida, and a few others, are not quite volunteers, but their funding is anemic and they are racing against the clock.
Scratch the cordial surface and the main ingredients for the relationship between these two groups is suspicion and resentment. Scientists often don't trust that hunters are providing all field information they can. And hunters often resent scientists because they think they ponder the python problem flush with cash in their ivory towers.
If anyone can help bridge this gap, it's Joe Wasilewski. A protege of the old Miami Serpentarium's Bill Haast, Wasilewski rose from the hunter ranks to become one of Miami's best known reptile biologists.
"The distrust between science and these hunter guys, it has to do with two things, ego and money," Wasilewski said in a recent interview. "All the hunters want to do, is they want to be the best at what they do, and they want to say I caught more animal X than anybody else. And the scientists want to know more than anybody else."
He says hunters and scientists should try to work together to address the Burmese python invasion in the Everglades.
"I wish I could just get them all into a room and get a bunch of beer and let's just have a big party, and let's all kind of get along here."
In this week’s video snippet -- outtakes of The Python Invasion documentary that will broadcast on WPBT2 later in the year -- we watch as Wasilewski implants a microchip into a Burmese python for scientific purposes.