INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of python hunters have spread across Florida, hoping to win big while bringing an invasive species under control.
For Amy Siewe, it was a chance to turn a hobby into a career in the Florida Everglades, while becoming a "Best You."
"There wasn't really any training involved in it, it's just kind of baptism by fire," she said.
Siewe is one of 100 professionals hired by the state of Florida to eradicate the growing python population.
"The Burmese pythons are an invasive species in Florida, meaning that they are not supposed to be here and they are causing harm to the ecosystem," she said.
Siewe has an affinity for snakes and when she learned what was happening in Florida, she started to second guess her real estate career in Indiana.
"I just had this feeling inside. I mean, it was the strongest feeling that I've ever had, that I have to go and I have to do this. I have to be there, there is nothing that I can do from Indiana that's going to help me become a python hunter," she said.
She gave it a try on vacation and had success.
"My first python I caught, it was a ten-footer. I was in flip-flops, I wasn't even hunting and it's going across a busy road, so I'm stopping traffic and I'm grabbing this thing by the tail," Siewe said.
She was hooked and moved to Florida, joining a group that's caught 15,000 pythons since 2017.
"So in the scheme of things, over five years, that's not a lot, you know," she said.
There are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 invasive pythons in Florida now. The largest Siewe has caught was a 17-footer that weighed 110 pounds.
"I don't know that we can ever get ahead of this," she said. "The one thing I will tell you is it takes three years for a python to reach 10 feet and it takes 200 mammals and birds to get it there. And these things live for 25 years, so literally every single python that we are taking out of the Everglades is saving the lives of our native animals."
She says getting bit is "just another day at work" and has a side gig selling snakeskin belts and watchbands.
It all comes together for Siewe to be her "Best You."
"The way I look at this, in 20 years, I hope we can say, 'Yes, we made a difference,'" she said.