Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Little Black Stick' Just Tip of 95-Pound Python

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Little Black Stick' Just Tip of 95-Pound Python

Article excerpt

Byline: Jared Keever

Jack Merwin has a story to tell but he won't be boring anyone with a tale about the big one that got away.

Merwin, 69, recently happened upon a tail of a different sort and it was part of a 95-pound female python.

The licensed psychologist from Crescent Beach traveled to the Everglades Jan. 16 to participate in this year's Python Challenge, a sanctioned hunt put on by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other partners.

According to the event's website it is meant to "raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife."

The competition runs through Feb. 14. Prizes, ranging from $750 to $5,000, are awarded to teams and individuals who bring in the most pythons and who kill the longest python.

The 95-pounder Merwin and his friend, Gabriel Pellicer, 31, of St. Augustine, brought in was 13 feet, 1 inch long. At last update it is the longest killed so far this year, Merwin said during a phone interview Wednesday. He was expecting another update Tuesday.

Merwin said he has hunted and trapped all his life and works occasionally as an assistant nuisance trapper in Crescent Beach, clearing alligators from the community.

Going on the python hunt "seemed like a natural extension" of those activities, he said.

He and Pellicer encountered their big catch about 3 hours into their hunt Sunday.

Having picked out what looked to be a good area using Google Maps, the two put their boat in a canal and parked their truck. They had only traveled about a half mile from the truck when they saw what they thought would be a good place to hunt.

Less than 40 yards from where they pulled their boat ashore, Merwin said he saw a tail poking out from a clump of thick grass. …

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