Florida's python hunt yields 41 snakes so far

William DeShazer/Staff
Ron Bergeron, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, handles a 13 foot and 85 pound Burmese python during the kickoff of the 2013 Python Challenge at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center on Saturday Jan. 12, 2013. Almost 800 people have signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands in Florida.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff Ron Bergeron, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, handles a 13 foot and 85 pound Burmese python during the kickoff of the 2013 Python Challenge at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center on Saturday Jan. 12, 2013. Almost 800 people have signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands in Florida.

— More than three dozen Burmese pythons have been hunted during Florida's "Python Challenge" that ends in less than two weeks.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday that 41 of the invasive snakes have been killed in the Everglades since the competition began Jan. 12.

University of Florida researchers examine each snake hoping to learn more about the elusive species.

No one knows for sure how many pythons live in South Florida. Wildlife officials say eradicating pythons from the Everglades was never the goal of the monthlong challenge. Instead, they hoped to raise awareness about the snake's threat to native wildlife and the fragile Everglades ecosystem. The snake faces both state and federal bans.

More than 1,000 people signed up for the challenge that ends Feb. 10.

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