More than 1,500 hunters help capture 50 pythons in Florida Everglades

FILE PHOTO -- Ron Bergeron, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, handles a 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.

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

FILE PHOTO -- Ron Bergeron, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, handles a 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.

MIAMI — More than 1,500 participants of a monthlong python challenge have helped to capture 50 Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission updated the counts Tuesday for the "Python Challenge." The competition began Jan. 12 and ends Feb. 10.

The invasive snakes killed in the Everglades are processed and logged by University of Florida researchers who examine each one 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 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.

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