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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — When Florida issued a call for python hunters, applications came in from near and very, very far — Iran, for instance, where one man sees a chance to fulfill his childhood dream.
Mohammad Asghari is one of 2,600 applicants worldwide hoping to become a “python removal agent” with the, an effort that aims to control the state’s booming Burmese python infestation. The python elimination program tripled its budget earlier this year to approximately $1 million, expanded to include six counties and will double its contracted hunters to 50.
Asghari spent his youth catching vipers in the mountains by his home in Tehran. He kept the venomous snakes in a plastic box and enjoyed playing with them.
“My parents always opposed this,” said Asghari, 38.
Though Asghari currently works as an electrical engineer in Iran, his real passion is snakes — “the most beautiful animal,” he said. He owns more than 70, including dozens of boa constrictors and Burmese pythons, many of which he bought illegally through the black market. He posts the pets on his Instagram, @Iran.Snake and occasionally sells them for a 15 percent markup.
Asghari, who communicated with the Miami Herald on What’s App, believes he would be an excellent python removal agent because he is very familiar with Burmese pythons.
“They can’t hurt me at all,” he said. “I fully understand their behavior.”Statistically, it is easier to get into Harvard than to become a python removal agent. But the job doesn’t pay much: $15 an hour […]