Why don’t the Everglade hunters just shoot the Burmese pythons?
Burmese pythons are not native to the Everglade, but when they got out, they were able to quickly adapt and establish themselves in their new home.
Their natural colors make it easy for them to camoflage and hide.
They are ambush predators and opportunistic, often finding a potential prey’s regular route, lying still and waiting for food to come by, as oppose to being active and moving around to hunt.
Some research shows that the Burmese python is responsible for a 90 percent decline in small mammal populations within the Everglades, since the native wildlife were not adapted to such an efficient predator.
They are long but have a low profile, making them harder to see in the tall grass and shallow waters. Like alligators, they use their surroundings to be more elusive. You can be a trained hunter and still miss some of them.
The pythons also have learned how to use burrows of other animals as their own hiding place. Gopher tortoise burrows are one of these.
They also lay a lot of eggs, meaning if you miss a fertile female, then 1 becomes 5–10 the next year (assuming some babies don’t live to adulthood).
During a necropsy of one individual, a 17 ft., 152 pound gravid female, wildlife biologists documented at least 95 developing eggs.
A technique most use now, is capturing but tracking adult males, giving them the chance to locate the females. Their efforts are not just using brute force to hunt down each snake one by one, but taking a smarter approach, such as studying behavior and movement, and adapt methods to deter the growth.
When you are faced with one, shooting can both be a pro and a con. You can shoot it from a far, so you are safe. If the python is near a body of water, it can quickly dive in and disappear. They will very hard to follow especially in the dark murky waters. If it is near its burrow, it can hide deeper and out of reach, needing bigger tools to dig out.
Also, how good is your aim? Can you use a high precision rifle and hit the head with pinpoint accuracy? Or are you using a typical shotgun, spraying area and hoping it hits the snake?
How much are you bullets and gun maintenance? Compared to a machete that you can reuse, using the gun method will consume ammo.
Also, when you are able to capture one, decapitating it with a knife or smashing the head with a mallet will quickly and humanely dispatches it. Unloading shotgun shots leaving gaping wounds just inflicts unnecessary cruelty and might not instantly kill the animal. They are an invasive species but those killing them horrible and illegal ways should still be held accountable.
And as I’ve mentioned in my original answer, if you happen to come upon an adult male, its breeding season, and you have the necessary equipment, it might pay off more to release and track it, as he might lead you to some mature females.
You earn more catching gravid females and discovering nests.