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Florida Python Hunt Underway; Prizes Up for Grabs for Most Snakes Bagged

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By    |   Tuesday, 19 Jan 2016 10:33 AM

A new Florida python hunt is underway in the Everglades as hundreds of hunters hope to nab more snakes than the 68 captured in 2013.

As of Friday, 573 hunters are taking part in the 2016 Python Challenge, far less than the estimated 1,500 that took part in the first challenge, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The python hunt, which continues through Feb. 14, offers a $1,500 prize for the hunter who bags the most snakes and another $1,000 for corralling the largest python, the newspaper said.

"The intent of the 2016 Python Challenge is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife," said a statement on the challenge's website.

"Through the 2016 Python Challenge the (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) and its partners will share knowledge about Burmese pythons in Florida, encourage the continued removal of these snakes by the public, and highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership so nonnative species such as Burmese pythons are not released into the wild," the statement continued.

Thousands of pythons are believed to be hiding in the Florida Everglades, and they are often blamed for the disappearance of raccoons, rabbits, and opossums in the region, according to CNN.

"Burmese pythons are long-lived, large-bodied constricting snakes native to Southeast Asia," the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement last year. "Highly adaptable, these ambush predators can reach lengths greater than 19 feet and produce large clutches of eggs that can range from eight to 107 eggs."

"Burmese pythons were first observed in South Florida's Everglades National Park in 1979. Since then, they have spread throughout the park," the statement continued.

Not even PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is rooting for pythons, the Times said. The organization recently said in a statement on its website that hunters should shoot the snakes in the head instead of decapitating them.

"When decapitated, pythons can remain alive and writhe in agony for hours," PETA officials said.

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A new Florida python hunt is underway in the Everglades as hundreds of hunters hope to nab more snakes than the 68 captured in 2013.
florida, python, hunt, everglades
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2016-33-19
Tuesday, 19 Jan 2016 10:33 AM
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