Most people eat cake and slack off on their last day of work. Not Jean Bernard Tarrete.
The former forest ranger wrapped up his career with the Florida Forest Service at the end of March by hunting down a 15-foot Burmese python, wrestling with the beast while a coworker beat it to death with a council rake, and then posting a video of them trying to load the animal onto the bed of a pickup truck to YouTube and Facebook. The YouTube clip is now private.
Forest Service spokesman Victor Hill has been telling news outlets that the agency decided not to report the catch because the whole saga was unprofessional and inhumane. Hill told New Times that he has been instructed to not give additional comments beyond what's already been said.
Earlier, Hill told a CBS affiliate that "it looks like the snake is just mangled, and that's not what we wanted to happen."
Rangers don't have to file incident reports after wasting huge reptiles with tools meant to till scorched earth. For those not familiar with council rakes, one retailer describes them as ideal for "raking fire lines" and "rolling burning logs and cutting grass." Needless to say, they're sharp, and taking one to a pissed-off python probably produced a hell of a mess.
Tarrete came across the invasive reptile in the Picayune Strand State Forest out west near Naples a few weeks back but failed to capture it. He and a coworker then went back out on March 21, when they caught and killed the thing.
While beating the animal to death with a rake sounds brutal, Lisa Jameson, an invasive-species biologist at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, says machetes are often used to chop off the heads of Burmese pythons that make a break for freedom or are aggressive. Sometimes a shotgun blast will do the trick, but that approach has its drawbacks.
"Bullets are not the best option when you're trying to get a snake going down a hole because they can ricochet off rocks," Jameson says. "And if he used one of those rakes that's for fires, they're razor sharp with big triangular teeth. It's almost like having a machete."
Still, Jameson says there are benefits of bringing in the snake alive rather than dead. They can be used to train police on how to handle the much-dreaded snake complaint. Also, live snakes are useful in training dogs on how to sniff out the reptiles in the wild.
Tarrete left his job as a ranger soon after the incident. Hill says his departure had nothing to do with the snake incident, as it occurred on Tarrete's last day of the job. Hill declined to comment on the YouTube video.
Click here to view parts of the video, which shows a rather large man struggling to pull the dead snake into the truck as well as a short interview with Tarrete.
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.