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Get ready for some good ole snake wrangling down in Florida this January. The state will hold it’s first annual Burmese python hunt in hopes of reducing the invasive species numbers.The hunt is supported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in hopes to reduce the snake’s population in the Everglades.
The Burmese python has been devastating the Florida Everglades ecosystem since they were first discovered there in 1979.
The pythons were originally pets that were released into the wild when they got to big. The snakes have been thriving ever since, eating their way through native species like deer, bobcats, and other small mammals.
Raccoon and possum sightings have drastically dropped by 99 per cent. They are also huge: Earlier this year researchers found a pregnant python who reached a record breaking 17.7 feet long, 164.5 pound snake.
“It’s very difficult to find these animals and we don’t really have a good strategy on how to contain this population,” Linda Friar, spokeswoman for Everglades National Park, told Kim Segal of CNN. “This is a pilot to see if it will gain public interest in areas that you can hunt so that they would be able to remove and capture these snakes.”
The registration fee for the contest is $25, and online training to ensure the snakes are killed in a humane way is required. The grand prize of $1,500 goes to whoever kills the most snakes, and a $1,000 prize will be awarded to the person that kills the longest one.
Kate Wong of Scientific American’s Observation’s blog has some concerns about the idea:
How reliably can a novice sort Burmese pythons from native Florida snakes—some of which are venomous—in the wild after 30 minutes of preparation online? And obvious human safety concerns aside, can someone who has never handled snakes before really be counted on to kill a large constrictor humanely in the heat of the moment? Check out those euthanasia guidelines—they’re more complicated than you might think.
To learn more about the contest in the video below: