“I’ve always had a crazy fascination, an obsession, for snakes, I don’t know why,” says Amy Siewe, a 43-year-old woman of average height, not a gram of fat and at first glance agile and ready for action.
Siewe has “loved” snakes since she was a child, but she’s hired to eradicate pythons from the Everglades nature reserve in South Florida, and she alone has killed about a hundred.
Shortly before a night of hunting we found her at one of the entrances to the enormous Everglades wetland. It is the best time to find these elusive beings that, she says, have killed 90% of the native mammals of the reserve, to which she accesses with her own key through a barrier surrounded by metal signs eaten by bullet holes .
To find the pythons, she will tirelessly travel for hours in her truck, driven by her “fiancé” and equipped with spotlights on the roof, the embankments that divide the waters of the enormous wetland.
Amy’s name recently appeared in the press for the capture of a 17-foot-three-inch-long, 110-pound python, slightly less than her own weight, as part of the Water Management District’s Python Eradication Program from South Florida.
Before that, on his YouTube channel, he had published several videos about his knowledge about snakes and his encounters with some of these animals. In one of them he teaches four ways to hunt a python in 3.5 minutes: with a special stick, with his hands, with his feet and with the help of a partner.
It is clear that Amy has no fear of snakes. “The hunters hired by the two programs (the one from the water management district and the other from the Florida conservation agency) are approximately a hundred and 10%, I would say that between 10 and 15, we are women,” says Amy, an apparent walking contradiction that “loves” pythons but seeks them out, hunts them down, and then “euthanizes” them.
For her there is nothing contradictory in what she does. “It is the natural progression” of her interest in snakes. She came to Florida to “make a difference” in eradication.
Although after capturing them alive, he kills them, he worries that they will suffer the least. For this, he carries with him a white cloth bag without a closure and a black one with a cord that when pulling on the ends closes the opening completely.
He delicately simulates how he puts the python’s head in the white bag that he has put inside the black one and how he pulls on the drawstring and keeps the bag closed until the snake stops breathing. “When they stop seeing and hearing, the snakes calm down,” “they stop fighting,” he says.
Another sign that he takes pity on snakes is when he talks about the enormous damage that invasive species like pythons do to the Everglades ecosystem and says, “It’s not their fault you’re here.”
And indeed they do not. No one knows for sure why these Asian reptiles ended up in Florida’s largest nature reserve, on which the entire water system of the region depends.
Among the most accepted theories is that the current population descends from the pythons that Floridians kept as pets and ended up abandoning in the Everglades.