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Wildlife officials hope to tackle Florida's python problem

11:00 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is slithering through Florida and it could put more than $1,000 in your wallet.  This is the first year for the Python Challenge which is being put on by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

It is open to licensed hunters and the general public. The goal is simple, cut back the population of Burmese pythons in the Sunshine State.

The $1,500 prize goes to the person who catches the most Burmese pythons and $1,000 prize will go to the person that catches the biggest.

"We don't want people just going out there and start indiscriminately harvesting snakes. If you don't collect the right kind of snake you won't get credit for it and if you start killing native snakes that is a bad thing," says Karen Parker with the FWC.

The contest will start January 12 and runs through February 10. Participants will have to complete an online training session first to go over the rules and how to humanely put down the snakes. There is also an entry fee of $25.

The Burmese python problem didn't just miraculously happen in Florida, the FWC says it is the result of people releasing their pet pythons into the wild.

"They started breeding and now we've got a wild population down there and they are starting to become the apex predator," says Parker.

That wreaks havoc on the natural eco-system.

So if you are up to the challenge, the FWC is ready to pay top dollar to take a bite out of Florida's python problem.

For more information on the designated hunting areas, the online training session and contest rules follow this link: www.pythonchallenge.org

First Coast News

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