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Special Everglades python-hunting season ends with no snakes taken

April 20, 2010 | 11:57 am

A Burmese python is coiled around the arm of a hunter during a news conference announcing a special season for the capture and removal of reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Everglades.

The six-week special hunting season for the capture and removal of reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Florida Everglades has come to an end with no snakes taken.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists believe that the cold snap that hit the state this winter may have had something to do with the lack of snakes.

"Based on observations and reports from python removal permit holders, biologists and hunters, we believe 50 percent of the wild Burmese python population died as a result of the record cold weather," the commission’s exotic-species section leader Scott Hardin said in a news release. "These seasonal kills are beneficial in helping to control nonnative reptile populations."

Occurring immediately before the pythons’ mating season, commission officials hope the cold snap also hindered the snakes' reproductive season this year.

The hunting season, which ran from March 8 to April 17, took place in the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land and Rotenberger wildlife management areas after the close of small-game season.

Beginning in late August, licensed hunters who also have the necessary permits will again have the opportunity to capture and remove nonnative reptiles from Florida's public lands.

The state is facing a troubling situation, believed to have been caused by snake owners who released pythons when they became too large to manage. The snakes, which are reproducing in the wild, have become a threat to native wildlife.

Wildlife officials say the reptiles could number in the tens of thousands in the South Florida region -- mostly in the Everglades.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A Burmese python is coiled around the arm of a hunter during a news conference announcing a special season for the capture and removal of reptiles of concern from state-managed lands around the Everglades. Credit: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

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