Fans of Swamp People: Serpent Invasion are very aware of what the cast of South Florida trappers endure on a daily basis, the grueling processes to track and catch reptiles through the nearly endless swampy abyss that is the Everglades. Their work, which is needed in order to combat the aggressive and invasive species of Burmese pythons invading the land, is one that is not largely understood, even in the context of trappers as a whole.
So, here's a breakdown of why the work being done by the cast of Serpent Invasion is needed in order to protect the delicate ecosystem that Burmese pythons are currently destroying.
What happens to the snakes on 'Serpent Invasion'? Florida pays trappers to hunt them.
The problem with Burmese pythons is handled in a unique way in Florida: the state grants trappers official sanction to kill them, provided that they follow the hunting regulations of the land and time of year they take part in it. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) actually pays individuals who track down and humanely kill the invasive species all across the state.
Furthermore, the state even sponsors a yearly Python Pickup Program that offers special prizes to those who can kill the most and the largest of the pythons ravaging the Everglades. Although anyone can technically kill a python and participate in the ecological clean-up, Florida offers official contracts for python removal specialists.
According to the agency themselves, "The Python Elimination Program incentivizes a limited number of public-spirited individuals to humanely euthanize these destructive snakes, which have become an apex predator in the Everglades."
How did the pythons become a problem in Florida? Signs point to Hurricane Andrew.
The Burmese python is far from a native species to the Florida peninsula, in fact, the only reason the species is incurring such a toll on the ecological state of the Everglades is due to an actual natural occurrence, Hurricane Andrew. In 1992, captive pythons in a breeding facility made their way out during the massive storm and began breeding rapidly.
As they reproduced, the pythons decimated the state's populations of most small animals, including but not limited to rabbits, raccoons, bobcats, birds, and deer. There have even been instances where larger pythons have attempted to take down an alligator, the true native predator of the state.
Throughout the second season of Serpent Invasion, crew members have been working tirelessly to combat the ever-growing population of pythons despite a successful hunting season in 2020. With a heatwave, migrating populations of snakes making tracking difficult, and the overall stressors of working for days on end in the muggy swamp, it's clear why the pressure is always on for these talented reptile trackers.