Snake hunter Dusty Crum is taking on Florida's invasive population of Burmese pythons to save the everglades he loves — and he's doing it all barefoot.
The star of Discovery's new series, Guardians of the Glades, told PopCulture.com all about the perilous python problem facing the unique ecosystem ahead of the Tuesday, May 28, premiere, revealing that there's much more to what he does than tracking down snakes.
Burmese pythons have been a problem in the everglades since the 1970s, having escaped from pet owners or been set free. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 ramped that issue up another level, Crum explained, when a breeding facility housing at least 900 baby pythons was demolished, unleashing them on the environment.
"You know, 20 some years later, we got big problems," he told PopCulture. "It's a domino effect like you've never seen, and it goes on down the line, down to mosquito level. ... This kind of thing, it's disrupting the whole ecosystem."
His passion, he added, is to protect the native ecosystem he loves so much, insisting, "I just, I gotta stand up for the rabbits and the otters and stuff where, they don't have a fighting chance at all — the snake wins every time. So, I feel like if I can help them and stand up for them, it's like a kid that's getting bullied. All the native animals are getting bullied by the snakes, and it's time that somebody stood, stands up to them."
Taking out pythons through Florida's invasive species bounty program alongside a ragtag team of fellow hunting enthusiasts, nature lovers and a beagle named Riley, Crum and his crew have made a name for themselves as some of the best snake hunters in the state. For the Discovery star, that means ditching his shoes while searching for snakes.
"Well, the snake doesn't have shoes," he explained of the seemingly dangerous choice to PopCulture. "So ... it's more of a fair match."
He added, "I grew up that way as Florida, where I'm comfortable barefoot in the swamp. I feel like I'm faster in the water and can get around to the snakes better, and I can connect with the earth. It's almost a healing kind of thing when you're barefoot."
That doesn't mean he has no fear of the pythons' massive squeezing power, which can increase your blood pressure to the point of exploding your heart, that is if they don't drown you first.
"That's kind of one of my fears is getting in the water and getting drowned by one of the snakes or something like that," he admitted to PopCulture. "I feel like that God won't put anything in front of me that I can't handle. So, I just got to keep believing that and then keep going to work every day."
Guardians of the Glades premieres Tuesday, May 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT only on Discovery.
Photo credit: Discovery