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The Python Hunter

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PYTHON PASSION: Collier County resident Amy Siewe captures snakes in the Everglades.

For Amy Siewe, a lifelong fascination with snakes has become a career—and a way to help restore balance to the Everglades—by hunting invasive pythons. Once she finds and captures a python, she places it into a pillowcase and takes it to her home in South Naples to euthanize it humanely with a captive bolt gun.

“It’s unfortunate that they have to be euthanized, but there’s no other way,” says Siewe. “They are gorgeous animals; every time I catch one, I have to admire it.

After checking in with her agency to record the capture and the snake’s measurements, it is Siewe’s to do with as she pleases, which for her is to skin the snake and preserve it. In her efforts to use every part of the python, she approached Gretchen Bauer, owner of BSWANKY, a Sarasota-based atelier specializing in luxury leather goods.

“I’m always looking for things that are different,” says Bauer, who had researched sourcing python internationally for her handbags. “It came to my attention that the pythons were an invasive species and taking over the Everglades, and hunters were selling skins. Amy reached out to me [in December 2019] and said, ‘I’d love to partner with you.’ She’s so passionate about the environmental angle, and even skins the pythons herself and sends them to the tanneries.”

Not long after they connected, Siewe introduced Bauer to the South Florida National Parks Trust, and Bauer was impressed by the organization. She says she thought, “This is a perfect fit, the three of us working together to make beautiful products, help the environment and give back through the South Florida National Parks Trust.”

In July, BSWANKY launched its Conservation is the Key initiative, through which 100% of sales of its South Florida Burmese python keychains ($60) and 5% of total sales of python handbags (ranging in price from $800 to $2,900) is donated to the South Florida National Parks Trust. The handbags and keychains can be found locally at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and Ncolor Salon + Boutique2.

 

Burmese Python Facts

  • Not native to Florida and considered an invasive species
  • Non-venomous
  • Good climbers
  • Can grow up to 26 feet long and weigh more than 200 pounds
  • The average size of pythons removed in Florida is 8 to 10 feet
  • Females lay between 50 and 100 eggs
Photos Courtesy of Amy Siewe

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