Sunday 13 January 2013

Big snake hunt

Python challenge: Florida holds snake hunting contest
The US state of Florida is set to begin a competitive Burmese python hunt, in an attempt to rid the Everglades wetlands of the invasive species. The month-long contest, called the Python Challenge, begins on Saturday. About 550 people have signed up to compete for two prizes: $1,000 (£620) for the longest python killed and $1,500 for the most pythons taken. First imported as pets, the feral snakes vie with native animals for food and have devastated mammal populations. The US banned the import of the carnivorous snakes last year. But some wildlife officials said the ban came too late - after the southern Asia natives had begun breeding in the Everglades. Burmese pythons, which can grow up to 23ft (7m) long, eat small mammals, birds and alligators.

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