Big Hunt for Pythons in Florida Everglades has Ended

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Associated Press Release

MIAMI (AP) -- The big hunt for Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades has ended.

More than 1,500 people registered to hunt the invasive species on South Florida public lands. They had until midnight Sunday to catch and kill a python. The carcasses must be turned in by 5 p.m. Monday to qualify for the cash prizes offered as part of the state's "Python Challenge."

Once University of Florida researchers finish examining the snakes, hunters will get to keep the skins.

The hunt began Jan. 12. As of Friday, 50 pythons had been killed as part of the hunt.

The hunt's final tally will be announced Feb. 16 at Zoo Miami, where officials will award prizes to the hunters who caught the most pythons and who caught the longest pythons.

Broward County Sheriff's Office Release

Just before 4 p.m. Thursday, February 7, 2013, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Regional Everglades units responded to a call of two python hunters, stranded and disoriented, 15 miles west of US Highway 27 at the northernmost border of Broward County.

BSFR Regional Everglades units and BSO Air Rescue began a search of the area and around 4:30 pm, air rescue located the two hunters, about two miles north of the L-5 Levee and 15 miles west of US 27.

The helicopter landed in the Everglades and brought the two men to the waiting rescue units, about two miles from where they were picked up.

The victims, ages 22 and 25, complained of lightheadedness and weakness and were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. BSFR firefighter/paramedics treated both patients on the scene. They refused transport to the hospital.

The firefighters were told that the pair was from Tennessee and they were in Florida to hunt pythons. Due to HIPPA regulations, their names are not available, nor do they have a local address. It is believed they were staying in their car in the Everglades while hunting.

This information should be considered preliminary, and as with any developing situation, the details may change.

Associated Press Release

MIAMI (AP) -- More than 1,500 hunters are struggling to find more Burmese pythons as a public hunt for the invasive species continues in the Everglades.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said Friday that the tally of pythons killed in the Python Challenge is holding at 50. That number hasn't changed since Tuesday.

The hunt began Jan. 12 and ends Sunday. State officials hope to raise awareness about the threats invasive species pose to native wildlife. University of Florida researchers are examining the snake carcasses.

Two python hunters from Tennessee had to be airlifted Thursday from the Everglades. The Broward Sheriff's Office says they became "stranded and disoriented" and had to be rescued by helicopter.

Authorities say the men "complained of lightheadedness and weakness and were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration."

Associated Press Release

MIAMI (AP) -- More than 1,500 participants of a month long python challenge have helped to capture 50 Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission updated the counts Tuesday for the "Python Challenge." The competition began Jan. 12 and ends Feb. 10.

The invasive snakes killed in the Everglades are processed and logged by University of Florida researchers who examine each one hoping to learn more about the elusive species.

No one knows for sure how many pythons live in South Florida. Wildlife officials say eradicating pythons from the Everglades was never the goal of the challenge. Instead, they hoped to raise awareness about the snake's threat to native wildlife and the fragile Everglades ecosystem. The snake faces both state and federal bans.

Associated Press Release

MIAMI (AP) -- Florida wildlife officials say 21 Burmese pythons have been killed so far in a public hunt for the invasive species in the Everglades.

It's unknown how many pythons live in the Everglades. Even experienced hunters have a hard time spotting the snakes in the swamplands.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says more than 1,000 people registered for the state's month long "Python Challenge." The hunters may find more success if colder temperatures drive the snakes onto sunny surfaces.

The snakes killed since the contest began Saturday will be processed by the University of Florida. The state hopes to apply the data gleaned from the carcasses to management plans for the Everglades.

Officials say the large snakes are devouring native wildlife at an alarming rate.

The contest ends Feb. 10.

The state has declared war on Burmese Pythons and now it's enlisting a militia.

The Burmese Python is an evasive species threatening the Everglades ecosystem.

The recruitment video produced by Florida Fish and Wildlife tells the story of how the snakes are destroying the Everglades.

The Burmese Pythons were brought here as pets, but many grew too big and their owners released them into the wild. Now, with no natural predators, the snakes are taking over.

Kristen Sommers, FWC Exotic Species Section Leader, stated, "obviously they are eating something down in South Florida so we know that they probably are impacting our native wildlife."

The solution - the 2013 Python Challenge.

The state is offering $1,500 to the hunter who bags the most snakes, and a thousand to the person with the longest python.

But participants will have to be on guard, the snakes are huge and one misstep could turn the hunter into the hunted.

Kristen Sommers, FWC Exotic Species Section Leader: "going out with somebody else is always a good option and making sure you are being cautions when you are out in these wild areas."

More than 640 people have already signed up. Participants must pay a $25 entrance fee and take a 30 minute online training course.

It all starts with the 2013 Python Challenge Kickoff on January 12th.

Despite the precautions, the hunt is already drawing the ire of animal rights groups.

Rules are complete with a chart showing how to kill the snakes, X marks the spot where hunters should shoot, but the rules also allow for decapitation.

There's no exact count on the number of Burmese Pythons in Florida, but experts believe there could be tens of thousands.

The challenge is seen as a way to contain the spread of the species.

The hunt begins Saturday with a kickoff event in Davie, FL and ends February 16th with an awards ceremony

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