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Florida won't repeat public python hunt next year

pythontrap.jpg

Nov. 18, 2011: A photo provided by the USDA Wildlife Services shows a python curled up in a test trap at their research facility in Gainesville, Fla. The trap patented by the USDA will test if pythons can be lured into traps. Pythons are invasive species that researchers believe are decimating populations of native mammals, especially in the Florida Everglades. (AP/USDA Wildlife Services, HO)

Florida won't be repeating a public hunt for Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

The state-sponsored Python Challenge attracted roughly 1,600 hunters in January and February and made headlines worldwide. It netted 68 of the invasive snakes, the longest measuring more than 14 feet.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman said Monday that the hunt met the agency's primary goal of raising awareness about the python problem, and there will not be another hunt next year.

Instead, the state is beefing up established programs that train licensed hunters and people who regularly work in areas known to contain pythons to kill or report exotic snakes.

It's unknown how many pythons live in Florida's Everglades. Researchers say the large snakes are eating native wildlife at an alarming rate.