Discovery’s Guardians of the Glades preview: Dusty Crum goes after invasive species of python in Florida

Dusty in action in the Everglades wrangling a python
Dusty in action in the Everglades wrangling a python. Pic credit: Discovery

Snakes and crocs, Asian carp and all sorts of little creatures have wound up in Florida’s Everglades. To say that the Sunshine state has a snake problem is an understatement and now Discovery will bring a new nature hero to the forefront with Dusty Crum.

The Everglades is special.  It serves as a filtration system and estuary where wildlife flourishes and creates the unusual ecosystem, the largest subtropical wilderness in North America, allowing many species to live.

This wetland paradise in the mid-to-southern tip of Florida is practically the size of Rhode Island and serves as the home to thousands of unique species of wildlife.

But it’s stressed, and the recent algae bloom that ruined beaches from Naples to the keys has people acutely aware of how important the natural wetlands are.

Once brimming with an abundance of life, it is under pressure from development, farming runoff, and is squarely in danger. There are invasive species and this series will focus on the Burmese Python — which has already decimated more than 90 percent of certain mammal and bird species in parts of the Everglades.

Enter Dusty “The Wildman” Crum and his devoted crew fight to save the land they know and love, one snake at a time. He is also well-known in Florida and has made the news there catching huge snakes.

Why is there a snake problem?

Blame the weather first. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew introduced a foreign and invasive breeding population of giant constrictors known as Burmese pythons to the Southern Florida wilderness.

Then blame humans. According to CBS’s report, a decade before Andrew hit it was fashionable for people to mail order Southeast Asian Burmese pythons as pets.

To combat this confluence of human and natural disasters creating havoc on the Everglades, a python bounty program was established that pays people an hourly wage and a bonus too.  Over the last decade, because of this imbalance in nature, a severe mammal decline (including native deer)  have been directly linked to the pythons and are found in the stomachs of these snakes.

How big does a Burmese python get?

Burmese pythons get unnervingly big – choke an alligator big.  This snake is one of the top 5 largest snake species and gets upwards of 15- to 20-foot-long and 200-pounds.

The Burmese python is carnivorous, eating gators, birds and mammals. Their teeth are sharp rearward-pointing to anchor the prey as they wrap their body around the victim contracting its muscles, killing the prey by constriction.

Who is featured on the show?

Star Dusty Crum has amassed an eclectic team of fellow snake hunters, experts and survivalists, including rookie Brittany, swamp guru Jay, wildlife expert Gary, survivalist Tom, and Riley, the #1 Python hunting Beagle in the state of Florida.

Discovery says: “Each has a purpose and a common goal: to stop the area’s python takeover and save their beloved home and the diminishing wildlife who inhabit it.”

Fun fact: Dusty Crum “chooses to go without shoes during his missions through the Everglades.

Why? He says: “…If you have a rubber sole between foot and Earth, you can’t absorb what nature is telling you.”

Guardians of the Glades premieres ‪Tuesday, May 28 at 10/9c on Discovery Channel.

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