Animal Rights Group Blasts Senator's Plan for Florida Python Hunts

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for tens of thousands of pythons believed to be in the Everglades to be hunted and killed, a proposal blasted by animal rights advocates.

Nelson sent a letter on Tuesday to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking for permission to have deputized agents and volunteers kill as many of the snakes as possible during an organized hunt.

The senator's request comes after a 2-year-old central Florida girl was strangled by an unlicensed pet python in her home.

Nelson hosted Salazar on a tour of the Everglades last month, in which he advised the secretary of the python problem. He estimated as much as 100,000 of the snakes may be in the park.

In response to the senator's proposal, officials from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggested that Nelson focus on banning the import and private ownership of pythons.

"Because as long as individuals are allowed to acquire these exotic animals, they will continue to be abandoned outdoors and attack humans," PETA said in a statement obtained by "These animals have ended up in Florida through no fault of their own, and they should be dealt with in the most humane way possible."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.