Burmese python hunt in Everglades nets 68

AFP-JIJI

Hundreds of hunters who spent a month combing Florida’s Everglades for Burmese pythons captured and killed 68 of the invasive reptiles, organizers said Saturday.

The longest measured 4.35 meters, netting its hunter a $1,000 prize. Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also announced winners of two $1,500 prizes for the hunters who killed the most Burmese pythons, which are seen as a threat to the wetlands’ ecosystem.

“In our view, that number (68 snakes) was an unprecedented number of samples that would help us answer questions about pythons and make us more effective on removing them from the system,” said Nick Wiley, head of the commission.

The first Burmese pythons in the Everglades are believed to have been pets that escaped after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. They have reproduced rapidly and now outnumber native snakes. Scientists say they are behind the falling numbers of small mammals such as weasels, raccoons and rabbits in the Everglades.