Florida to Unleash Python Hunters

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 10:54 AM CDT
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson holds the skin of a 16-foot-long, 150 pound Burmese python captured in Miami-Dade County during a July 8, 2009, hearing on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – With Florida’s python population exploding, state wildlife officials are going on the offensive, hiring a team of trained hunters to track down the alarmingly large snakes and take them out, the Miami Herald reports. “There’s one way to do this: kill the snakes,” says Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who yesterday called for a hunt in the federally protected Everglades National Park, said to be home to 100,000 of them, each up to 20 feet long.

Though a pet python strangled a toddler two weeks ago near Orlando, the main threat they pose in the wild is to other wildlife, experts say. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considered offering a bounty on the python, but opted instead to deploy professional killers, as the state does to handle alligators. “This is not the wild, wild West,” says the commission’s chairman. “These people will be licensed, trained, and managed by us.”