Florida man hunts Burmese pythons in the Everglades

MIAMI _ Nobody has killed more Burmese pythons in the Everglades than Bob Hill has.

Long before the state launched its new python patrol, Hill was quietly _ aside from judicious employment of a 12-gauge shotgun _ racking up a count of constrictor carcasses that's likely to stand for some time.

The patrol has bagged six in three weeks. Hill figures he's "dispatched" 35 this year, and he's been in the dispatching business for the South Florida Water Management District since 2004.

That was the first time a rattled boss rang him from the L-67, a flood-control levee deep in the Everglades. Hill, a soft-spoken Miamian with a half-century of swamp savvy, chuckled recalling it.

"He said, 'Bobby, I've got a snake here. It's as big as my truck.' "

Some 300 pythons later, the side job has turned into full-time work. And Hill's uncanny nose for the giant snakes _sometimes, he can literally smell them _ has turned the modest maintenance worker into not only the state's top exterminator of the exotic menace, but also a leading authority on their habits.

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