Congressman Rooney battles pythons in the Everglades

Posted at 11:46 AM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 23:21:21-04

Congressman Francis Rooney took part in the South Florida Water management District's 'Python Elimination Program' in Big Cypress Swamp.

The purpose of the Python Elimination Program is to eliminate the invasive Burmese Python which damages the Everglades ecosystem and its native wildlife. 

"The snake holders catch them, we are just there, we hold them.  I didn't go out there and grab one in the grass," said Rooney.

But the freshman congressman did tag along with professional snake hunters who did most of the work.

"When you hold it right behind the neck, in the right spot, he's pretty much immobilized," said Rooney.

Rooney is trying to bring awareness to other members of congress about how these invasive species are wrecking the eco-system in the Everglades.  

"I've got a couple emails, like that's pretty far out there, they are thinking why are they doing that, it must be important."

Rooney is encouraging anyone who's interested to participate in the South Florida Water Management Districts Python Elimination Program.

He believes it is making a dent in the python population.

"There's been almost 440 of them taken out as of last night (Thursday night), and that represents an avoided number of thousands that would have been born had those not been taken out."

Currently it is illegal to kill pythons on federal land, you can only trap them.  Congressman Rooney is working with colleagues to change that law.