Python Challenge 2013, aimed at culling South Florida?s population of invasive Burmese pythons and raising awareness about the hazards posed by non-native species, has claimed 11 snakes since its Saturday kickoff.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson said she got the number from biologists from the University of Florida Research and Education Center, who check in the snakes turned over by hunters. Segelson said she did not have specific information about the sizes or locations of the animals harvested, nor the names of hunters.
More than 800 people from more than 30 states have registered to compete in the month-long challenge, which will award prize money for the most and largest pythons harvested.
?We?re very excited there have been 11 Burmese pythons turned in so far, since we didn?t have any expectations,? Segelson said Monday afternoon. ?But we are pleased we?ve had snakes turned in so early in the competition, especially with the weather being warm. This contest has gotten so much attention. We?re pleased we have been able to raise so much awareness about non-native species and their detrimental effects on the ecosystem.?
Hunters are restricted to four state wildlife management areas; Everglades National Park is off-limits. They may use some firearms, as well as captive bolts and machetes to kill pythons. Native species may not be taken.