MIAMI, FL (WCMH) — The hunt is on! Florida is hosting its annual Python Challenge. Officials say so far, 17 Burmese pythons have been caught during the hunt for the invasive species in Florida’s wetlands.
The state’s second public hunt for the exotic snakes started Saturday and ends Feb. 14, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. More than 500 people have registered to look for pythons across a swath of state lands in South Florida. Some authorized hunters also are allowed to extend the hunt into Everglades National Park.
The person who bags the biggest snake can win a prize, but this snake in the picture above might be a hard one to beat. It was captured by a Florida Wildlife Commission officer. The 16’ 10” python was humanely euthanized.
The annual snake-catching festival attempts to reduce South Florida’s population of the giant constrictors.
Spokeswoman Carli Segelson says so far, the hunt is accomplishing its goals, both in catching snakes and raising awareness about the threat invasive species pose to native Florida plants and wildlife.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.