At the beginning of 2013, a contest in the Florida Everglades was opened to the public that allowed hunting of invasive Burmese Python. Hunters from across the country descended on the Florida wetlands in search of pythons, which have slowly been taking over the area throughout the last two decades and endangering the population of native species.
Hunters come equipped with guns, knives, snake sticks, bikes, motor vehicles and boats— all eager at the chance to capture an exotic species and help bring the wetlands back to their natural balance.
Throughout my time during both hunts, happening once in 2013 and again in early 2016, I found myself driving through South Florida on a weekly basis looking for hunters. Nights were spent sleeping in the back of my truck while days were spent driving down miles of dirt roads and wandering through the marshy trails; meeting and photographing many of the hunters I met.
After speaking with hunters I found that most of them weren’t there just for the bragging rights of killing an exotic animal, but rather there to help spread awareness of the issue and do their part in helping decrease the population.
The introduction of the Burmese Python to the Florida Everglades created an immense imbalance in the fragile ecosystem and this regulated hunt is the first step in trying to bring the wetlands back to their regular state.
Dylan Johnston is a Brooklyn-based photographer who has spent years hopping fences, meeting strangers and exploring areas lesser known. His work has appeared in Roads & Kingdoms, Sport Fishing Magazine and Popular Photography on Campus. Visit Johnston’s online portfolio here.
Follow Dylan Johnston on Instagram @Capt_Johnston.