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As TIME’s environment writer, Bryan Walsh has trudged over the ice caps of Greenland and through the rain forests of Ecuador, dived the coral reefs off Bermuda and met the crocodiles of Madagascar. But coming face to fang with an adult Burmese python–that involved acquiring some new techniques in managing sources.
Fortunately, he was in the company of Jeff Fobb, a dangerous-animal specialist with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department. Florida has more invasive species than any other place in the U.S., thanks to its climate and location, and the pythons present a particular challenge. They hunt at will and can hide in plain sight, and only human beings pose any real threat to them.