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Before Miami's Super Bowl, a Massive Snake Hunt

'Python Bowl' participants to hunt down invasive Burmese pythons for cash and prizes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 11, 2020 8:30 AM CST
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In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, a 14-foot, 95-pound female Burmese python is held tightly by a wildlife biologist after he captured it in Naples, Fla.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

(Newser) – Miami's upcoming Super Bowl will mean death for dozens of invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades—and wildlife officials say that's a good thing. The game's organizing committee is working with Florida to promote the Python Bowl, a 10-day contest that began Friday that will give out all-terrain vehicles and cash to the hunters who kill the most and biggest of these non-native snakes, per the AP. The pythons, which can grow to 20 feet long, are descended from pets released starting five decades ago. The big serpents have been devouring native mammal and bird populations. Kristen Sommers, a wildlife impact manager for the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said officials understand the number of pythons caught during the contest won't even make a dent in the population, which might exceed 100,000. But the goal is to raise the public's awareness of the problem.

"We hope we can minimize the python's impact until some time in the future when some sort of silver bullet will be available," she said. Each adult female lays between 60 and 100 eggs per year. Once the snakes reach adulthood in about five years, they have no Florida predators besides armed humans and the occasional saw-grass death match with an adult alligator. Python trapper Tom Rahill said the next 10 days might make for a slow hunt because of the moderate expected temperature range of 70 degrees to 80 degrees. Pythons are more likely to leave the brush and water and go into the open when it is especially hot or cold. Rahill, who has caught almost 800 pythons, said the key to success is persistence: Every eight hours of hunting averages one snake caught. "It is a certain amount of luck, but it is being in the the right place at the right time," he said.

(Read more Super Bowl stories.)

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