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Meet 39-year-old Edward Mercer, one of a handful of permitted python hunters in South Florida.
Since the 1990s, non-native Burmese pythons, one of the world’s largest species of snake, have been flourishing in the Everglades National Park and surrounding areas.
Pet owners have been known to release the snakes into the wild, where they quickly revert to their natural state.
Mercer doesn’t get paid for hunting the snakes, but says he enjoys the rush of finding and capturing the elusive, semi-aquatic pythons.
To date, he has caught 26 Burmese pythons, the largest of which was 12 feet long and weighed in at 43 pounds.
When he finds one, he turns it over to the state or federal wildlife authorities, depending on where it was found.
Burmese pythons are voracious feeders and prey on the native wildlife of the Everglades, including American alligators, raccoons, rabbits, bobcats and many different birds.
The National Park Service is concerned about the impact of the pythons on the delicate ecosystem of the area.