Noted ophidiophobe Indiana Jones would certainly take a pass on Robbie and Geoff Roepstorff’s hobby. It involves roaming the Everglades, in the dead of night, hunting Burmese pythons. If they spot one, Geoff gets out of his Jeep, grabs the snake by the tail and wrestles it into submission, which can be a struggle with a muscular, scaly creature that can measure a car length or more. And yes, they try to bite.
The Roepstorffs, who are the founders and executives at Edison National Bank, are among a growing number of licensed hunters who are culling the population of this invasive species, which continues to gobble up animals—from rabbits to deer to alligators—in the Everglades and upset the balance of its ecosystem.
It all started on Valentine’s Day 2016, when Geoff announced to Robbie that he wanted to take a stab at python hunting. “I saw that Florida Fish and Wildlife had challenges with the python population,” he says.
Not so fast. “You’re not going out there by yourself,” Robbie recalls telling Geoff. “Did I really want to go? No.”
After about six hours walking through the Everglades, they managed to hunt down and snag a python in three feet of water. After tiring it out, it was killed with a shotgun blow to the head.
A gruesome end for the prey, but the experience enlightened the Roepstorffs about how they could help solve the problem.
“It’s become a passion,” Robbie says.
The couple goes out at least once a week, arriving at the Everglades before dusk in order to get their bearings. Then they drive the levees in their Jeep, which is outfitted with high-intensity roof lights, and look for the pythons.
So far, they’ve captured and killed dozens.
Quite an accomplishment, given their initial feelings about the reptile.
“Both of us were afraid of snakes,” Robbie says.