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Bill Nelson didn't catch an Everglades python, but team with county commissioner and state rep did


Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz spent Saturday dressed in camouflage gear, riding an air boat and hunting for pythons in the Everglades. And someone on his team actually caught one.

Diaz and Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles, taller and also clad in camouflage, and Florida Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron posed for a photo with the python as part of the 2013 Python Challenge -- while the python was still alive, Diaz said. Artiles and Diaz are both U.S. Marine veterans. 

"The python was caught by the team that had gotten to the island just before us," Diaz said. "I had one that I kind saw the tail end of it, and I tried to grab to get it, but it went into the water."

He estimated the photographed specimen -- caught by a wrangler known as "Python Dave" -- measured around 10 feet. Diaz called it "very aggressive" because it snapped at them a few times. (He also said he had an encounter with a gator who growled at him.)

"It's not an easy thing to do," he concluded from his python-hunting trip. "You gotta really be careful."

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, took part in the python hunt last week, and brought reporters along, but returned empty-handed. That was before the weather cooled, which usually prompts pythons to leave the water and sun themselves.

As of Monday, 27 Burmese pythons had been caught as part of the challenge, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

photo courtesy of the office of Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz