Mighty python: Local forest rangers catch 15-foot snake

Florida Forest Service rangers Jean Bernard Tarrete, left, Dave Gravitt, center, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Ross Scott stretch out a 15-foot, 3-inch Burmese Python caught by Tarrete and another ranger on March 21, 2012 in Picayune State Forest.

Florida Forest Service rangers Jean Bernard Tarrete, left, Dave Gravitt, center, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Ross Scott stretch out a 15-foot, 3-inch Burmese Python caught by Tarrete and another ranger on March 21, 2012 in Picayune State Forest.

Jean Bernard Tarrete had the python by the tail, walking in circles to keep a step ahead of the huge snake’s attacking head.

“It was almost pulling me into the canal,” said Tarrete, who caught the python on his last day on the job as a Florida Forest Service ranger.

At 15 feet, 3 inches, the nonnative invasive snake Tarrete and co-worker Wilbur Chaney caught and killed along the Miller canal at Lynch Boulevard in the Picayune Strand State Forest last week was just inches short of the 16-foot record for a python pulled out of the wilds of South Florida.

Its discovery solidifies the python presence in Southwest Florida, where biologists are still struggling to get a handle on the spread of the python population from its core in Everglades National Park.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission plans to conduct a necropsy on the snake to determine its reproductive capacity and to find out what it might have been eating, Conservation Commission wildlife biologist Jennifer Ketterlin Eckles said.

She said wildlife agencies lack python data in Southwest Florida compared to data in the national park, and snakes the size of last week’s find don’t come around too often.

“It is pretty rare,” she said,

When word reached the Florida Forest Service about the python at the spot in the southern end of the state forest, rangers Tarrete and Chaney decided to see if they could find it.

Scientists see the python spread as a threat to native wildlife and the balance of the Everglades ecosystem; the Interior Department earlier this year banned the importation of pythons and the transport of them across state lines.

Tarrete and Chaney came up empty-handed on their first trip. They spotted the snake, but it escaped into a culvert, Tarrete said. They found the snake again a week later.

“The first one I see is 15 feet, it was a big surprise,” Tarrete said.

Tarrete held the tail, and Chaney grabbed the head. The two killed it with a rake rangers usually use to set fire breaks during controlled burns, Tarrete said.

Tarrete stood on the top of his pickup truck’s toolbox to hoist the python by the tail over the open tailgate and into the bed of the truck to be hauled away. A YouTube video of the feat doesn’t make it look easy — or pretty.

Forest Service spokesman Victor Hill issued a statement late Thursday saying the agency chose not to announce the python’s capture because the snake was killed inhumanely and counter to rangers’ training.

“We appreciate the efforts of these rangers to capture and kill the python but we absolutely do not condone the way it was handled,” Hill said.

Tarrete resigned from the Forest Service for reasons unrelated to the python killing, Hill said.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 55

Edgar_J_Bloody_Watson writes:

I will bet$100.00 to $1.00 that the NDN has the names in the captions of the images wrong.
I think i am able to deduce which guy is Jean Bernard Tarrete and which guy is Wilbur Chaney.
The editing in this rag gets worse by the day.

Tkdmom2000 writes:

I commend these guys for the job they do but I can't believe they don't have a better way of euthanizing these snakes. Yes they are invasive but beating it with a rake? An axe would do the some job quicker. Nice find anyways.

Leathercraftswoman (Inactive) writes:

How I wish they would just allow legal hunting of these snakes and the people capturing them would tan and sell their hides. You are looking at hundreds of wasted dollars here. This snake would easily make several guitar straps and / or motorcycle seats, saddles bags etc. I work with their gorgeous hides all the time and sadly it is becoming harder and harder to get good skins. This could be serious income for those needing work or extra money in this poor economy. Florida should just allow hunting with permits and open season on them.

babbas writes:

in response to Edgar_J_Bloody_Watson:

I will bet$100.00 to $1.00 that the NDN has the names in the captions of the images wrong.
I think i am able to deduce which guy is Jean Bernard Tarrete and which guy is Wilbur Chaney.
The editing in this rag gets worse by the day.

Bah! Humbug! Those young whipper-snappers!

Get a life.

LSPinNaples writes:

Looks like Connie Mack!

Hootneye writes:

in response to Edgar_J_Bloody_Watson:

I will bet$100.00 to $1.00 that the NDN has the names in the captions of the images wrong.
I think i am able to deduce which guy is Jean Bernard Tarrete and which guy is Wilbur Chaney.
The editing in this rag gets worse by the day.

And how is that your so sure they got it wrong???? I just looked at them and they are correctly listed......but then again you must now know who is who to make such a comment..... granted the NDN rag sheet is jsut that, but for once they got it right.....and certain DOF folks finally earned thier pay on this one....one big snake and the nay sayers continue to believe that there is not a problem in south florida with these beasts.....proof of the pudding.....

Trexler writes:

Snake is too heavy for a hatband..

woods311 writes:

First, let me say that I wish no ill will to our public employes, but your employer is broke.

You know, 15 trillion dollars of trickle down debt.

There are a lot of local people, with names like Smith, Brown, Daniels, Kort, Hogan, McCandles, Hamm, and many others.

As far as I know only one of them has killed a python.

We don't need to hire anyone to take care of the python "Problem".

P.S. Don't forget "I.L.A.C."

gladesman writes:

in response to Leathercraftswoman:

How I wish they would just allow legal hunting of these snakes and the people capturing them would tan and sell their hides. You are looking at hundreds of wasted dollars here. This snake would easily make several guitar straps and / or motorcycle seats, saddles bags etc. I work with their gorgeous hides all the time and sadly it is becoming harder and harder to get good skins. This could be serious income for those needing work or extra money in this poor economy. Florida should just allow hunting with permits and open season on them.

Please send a formal rule change recommendation to FWC in West Palm and Tallahassee and to the Commissioners. Their contact info is available at myfwc.com
I am serious since others are doing this also and increasing the demands will assist them to do the right thing and open season on these snakes and alligators if we are lucky.

Leathercraftswoman (Inactive) writes:

in response to gladesman:

Please send a formal rule change recommendation to FWC in West Palm and Tallahassee and to the Commissioners. Their contact info is available at myfwc.com
I am serious since others are doing this also and increasing the demands will assist them to do the right thing and open season on these snakes and alligators if we are lucky.

If you think it might help I definitely will. I buy skins all the time and sadly I am being forced to line the pockets of people in other countries and would prefer to be lining the pockets of our folks at home instead. I would much rather buy them here and help people here make some extra money rather than being forced to import the hides instead.

HIGHWATER writes:

Any panthers turn up in python scat? Lets not kill all them snakes just yet.

Here4Now writes:

not your avg trouser snake

nplsparentof2 writes:

aside from the PETA nuts, who cares how the snake was killed? I agree with the idea that we need to legalize hunting and the selling of the skins.

justright (Inactive) writes:

Such concern on how an invasive snake is killed but we shove a metal rod into a partially delivered human infant and suck the brains out and call it partial birth abortion and condone it.

Heraclitus writes:

in response to HIGHWATER:

Any panthers turn up in python scat? Lets not kill all them snakes just yet.

You make a very good point.

When the Picayune Strand is left to itself because there is no money for O&M, the exotics will be the first "volunteers" as they always are in disturbed areas.

Anyone who has ever tried to remove thick brazilian pepper knows that it's a great hiding place for wildlife. A snake that big probably already has offspring in the area and when the "rehydration" is well under way, they'll be much harder to catch in the water.

Marvelous

Heraclitus writes:

in response to nplsparentof2:

aside from the PETA nuts, who cares how the snake was killed? I agree with the idea that we need to legalize hunting and the selling of the skins.

The most humane way to kill anything is with a massive blow to the brain, such as a shotgun would deliver. The brain is the seat of the "self".

If you research decapitation, you'll find accounts during the French Revolution of disembodied heads with eyes blinking and lips moving.

Problem is that "humane" for the victim is usually "gruesome" for the general public, so we like to see things "go to sleep".

There should be a different word than "humane" to describe such a publicly acceptable death. Maybe "pretty"?

Heraclitus writes:

in response to justright:

Such concern on how an invasive snake is killed but we shove a metal rod into a partially delivered human infant and suck the brains out and call it partial birth abortion and condone it.

That probably really is the most "humane" way to do it. Not necessarily "pretty", but "humane".

Kebite83 writes:

Who cares how it was killed? I would use whatever I had in order to kill one of those snakes. Good job guys!!

profiler writes:

Looks like a cross between obama and pelosi with the forked tongue

crazyjoedivola1 (Inactive) writes:

"“We appreciate the efforts of these rangers to capture and kill the python but we absolutely do not condone the way it was handled,” Hill said."
So what's the right way to kill a python? 20 years on death row, an expensive last meal, then a lethal injection?

crowsinbarn writes:

Awesome catch guys!! Its not native to the PSSF ~ Kill them snakes how ever u need too !! they are worthless anyhow.... lol

wonderful (Inactive) writes:

in response to Heraclitus:

The most humane way to kill anything is with a massive blow to the brain, such as a shotgun would deliver. The brain is the seat of the "self".

If you research decapitation, you'll find accounts during the French Revolution of disembodied heads with eyes blinking and lips moving.

Problem is that "humane" for the victim is usually "gruesome" for the general public, so we like to see things "go to sleep".

There should be a different word than "humane" to describe such a publicly acceptable death. Maybe "pretty"?

Someone mentioned peloschi?

YOW!

beetlejuice writes:

in response to Hootneye:

And how is that your so sure they got it wrong???? I just looked at them and they are correctly listed......but then again you must now know who is who to make such a comment..... granted the NDN rag sheet is jsut that, but for once they got it right.....and certain DOF folks finally earned thier pay on this one....one big snake and the nay sayers continue to believe that there is not a problem in south florida with these beasts.....proof of the pudding.....

no problem
thar was one at duh fair last week
fer a buck ya could look at em
no problem

cons3rvative writes:

nice kill!

justright (Inactive) writes:

in response to Heraclitus:

That probably really is the most "humane" way to do it. Not necessarily "pretty", but "humane".

I think Hitler would agree with you.

tanyacasonclark writes:

in response to gladesman:

Please send a formal rule change recommendation to FWC in West Palm and Tallahassee and to the Commissioners. Their contact info is available at myfwc.com
I am serious since others are doing this also and increasing the demands will assist them to do the right thing and open season on these snakes and alligators if we are lucky.

You can hunt them...You've been able to for a couple of years now....
http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/non...

Heraclitus writes:

in response to justright:

I think Hitler would agree with you.

Actually probably not.

Neither would the Inquisition or any of the other sociopathic mass murderers.

NoBS writes:

As long as the beast ends up DEAD, who cares how it comes to die.

Creep writes:

Now that they been reprimanded for their insensitivity while inhumanely killing the snake will Victor please unlock the doors to his truck and come out "the snake is Dead"

privateroad writes:

good job you guys and where you hit it by the neck, most of the hide was saved.

naplesnewby writes:

Good job employees! One less invasive creature to worry about. Where I was raised, snakes were usually discovered during gardening or lawnwork, and the only tool available was a shovel or rake. That's fine.

I notice NDN coveniently did NOT mention a more HUMANE way to kill a snake. The rangers used what they had at the time. The employer is just CYA. It is completely acceptable to kill a snake with a shovel or rake. Been done for hundreds of years.

A python is invasive, a predator, a threat to many other species. A python is outlawed in this state. A python is destructive to our ecological communities. The rangers who killed this granddaddy, this breeder-of-breeders, are HEROES!!! Thank you!

We need more people this brave, to look out for our native animals.

wes writes:

in response to Creep:

Now that they been reprimanded for their insensitivity while inhumanely killing the snake will Victor please unlock the doors to his truck and come out "the snake is Dead"

The u tube video didn't help.
All those guys are really dedicated and
it's outstanding that JB and Wilbur got out there and found that monster. Probably unexpected though.
That rake is lethal. I have a machete to use also if I find one.
But I think a large broadsword is what's really needed for a quick kill.
I'm guessing the training went to heck when that snake attacked. Lucky they had that rake.

OP writes:

Uncontrolled legal killing of these menaces! Treat them with the same respect we have for mosquitoes.

Require no permits, require no reporting; just kill them on sight and do with the carcass as you will!

sailing writes:

Why is it ok to hunt hogs, deer, turkey, etc.etc but the average hunter can't hunt these snakes, the state of Florida needs to put a bounty on them pay the hunters $10 a snake, they would be gone quite soon,but that would make to much sense for the idiots running the f-up govenment

sailing writes:

in response to OP:

Uncontrolled legal killing of these menaces! Treat them with the same respect we have for mosquitoes.

Require no permits, require no reporting; just kill them on sight and do with the carcass as you will!

I agree we in florida have to get a permit to take a dump our government is soooo f-up

sailing writes:

can anyone tell me why you cant go out in the woods in collier and shoot a gun? who made this (naughty word) rule?

sailing writes:

in response to Tkdmom2000:

I commend these guys for the job they do but I can't believe they don't have a better way of euthanizing these snakes. Yes they are invasive but beating it with a rake? An axe would do the some job quicker. Nice find anyways.

How about just shoot it! don't we hunt in america anymore!!! Its ok to shoot deer hogs turkey etc. etc. but you cant shoot a snake! what a bunch a bull!

bonlyjonly writes:

Hill is a VJJ!!!!

JustAnotherDayInParadise writes:

At least will have a nice parting gift of some mighty fine snake skin boots!!

beerbong writes:

in response to Leathercraftswoman:

How I wish they would just allow legal hunting of these snakes and the people capturing them would tan and sell their hides. You are looking at hundreds of wasted dollars here. This snake would easily make several guitar straps and / or motorcycle seats, saddles bags etc. I work with their gorgeous hides all the time and sadly it is becoming harder and harder to get good skins. This could be serious income for those needing work or extra money in this poor economy. Florida should just allow hunting with permits and open season on them.

I agree.

Heraclitus writes:

in response to sailing:

Why is it ok to hunt hogs, deer, turkey, etc.etc but the average hunter can't hunt these snakes, the state of Florida needs to put a bounty on them pay the hunters $10 a snake, they would be gone quite soon,but that would make to much sense for the idiots running the f-up govenment

The bounty should be by the foot, with a graduated scale.

$1.00 for the first foot, $2.00 for the second ft ($3.00 for a 2 footer)... etc.

A ten footer would be worth $55.00... an 18 footer would be worth $171.00... more incentive for the harder task.

And, the snake hunters should be allowed to use motorized vehicles to get into the deep swamp where the big ones are. License them, and if they can't prove that they're capable of catching so many ft of snake within a year, revoke the license.

caloosa writes:

Once again the Naples Daily News drops the ball. My nephew, Marcos Reith, a Forest Ranger in Lee County caught a 20 ft. python just three days ago! Fifteen feet? Please!

RayNetherwood writes:

Politically correct killing?? Please, Rangers and anyone with a carry permit should be allowed to blow away any python at will. Period.

Can we get some intelligent adult leadership back into government. These employees should be lauded, not criticized.

zumachris writes:

The DOF guys are not equipped to deal with exotic animals like this on a daily basis. They are wildland firefighters who ran across a dangerous animal that would have escaped capture if not stopped dead in its tracks with whatever means they had. I can't think of any other animal roaming the everglades that would be killed like this unless something were to escape from the zoo. Sure a firearm would have been easier but they are not equipped. Snakes don't die fast even if you cut their head off,they trash around for minutes. Anyway, DOF probably saved a few deer, panther, birds and everything else the Python eats.

cgbexec writes:

Wow! Who is going to jump through all of the permits and regulation hoops to be able to kill these invasive species? I understand getting a private landowners permission before blasting a snake with a firearm, but on public land, it should be no permit needed! These snakes are going to be found mostly by those not looking for them (anglers, hikers, trail riders and so on). Secondly, I simply cannot believe these Rangers are being admonished for how they killed the snake. Pythons (any constrictor for that matter) kill their pray by suffocation, which is a slow and painful way to die. Really, they are worried about killing the snakes humanely. How about all of the creatures this snake killed to reach such a large size? There is nothing humane about slow suffocation. Humans have to stop attaching human emotions and feelings to non-mammal species. As long as the fine gentlemen that killed the snake are safe, the rest of us should be good with it!

zumachris writes:

in response to wes:

The u tube video didn't help.
All those guys are really dedicated and
it's outstanding that JB and Wilbur got out there and found that monster. Probably unexpected though.
That rake is lethal. I have a machete to use also if I find one.
But I think a large broadsword is what's really needed for a quick kill.
I'm guessing the training went to heck when that snake attacked. Lucky they had that rake.

The rake tool was likely a "Mcloud" one of the most common wild land firefighting tools used in the USA. It has a sharp blade on one side for cutting grass and weeds and strong teeth on the other to pull the same. It would be better for killing such a large snake than a shovel which would hardly cause a dent in such a large snake.

swamp4ever writes:

in response to tanyacasonclark:

You can hunt them...You've been able to for a couple of years now....
http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/non...

Try carrying a firearm in a wildlife management area and just see what happens to you. If hunters don't have legal access to the woods, they can't hunt.

Heraclitus writes:

in response to zumachris:

The rake tool was likely a "Mcloud" one of the most common wild land firefighting tools used in the USA. It has a sharp blade on one side for cutting grass and weeds and strong teeth on the other to pull the same. It would be better for killing such a large snake than a shovel which would hardly cause a dent in such a large snake.

Weapon of choice for killing large pythons should be a sawed-off shotgun aimed right at the head.

I have to wonder where some of these people were when God was handing out common sense.

OP writes:

in response to Heraclitus:

The bounty should be by the foot, with a graduated scale.

$1.00 for the first foot, $2.00 for the second ft ($3.00 for a 2 footer)... etc.

A ten footer would be worth $55.00... an 18 footer would be worth $171.00... more incentive for the harder task.

And, the snake hunters should be allowed to use motorized vehicles to get into the deep swamp where the big ones are. License them, and if they can't prove that they're capable of catching so many ft of snake within a year, revoke the license.

I like the way you two think.

OP writes:

in response to justright:

I think Hitler would agree with you.

Godwin's Law- you lose the debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%2...

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