Friday, January 18, 2013
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, left, walks with Florida Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron as they take part in a hunt for pythons during a state-sponsored snake hunt in the Everglades, Fla. on Jan. 17. Python Challenge 2013 is a month-long event sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offering prizes of $1,500 for the most pythons captured and $1,000 for the longest python.
By Barbara Liston, Reuters
A python hunting competition starting on Saturday is drawing hundreds of amateurs armed with clubs, machetes and guns to the Florida Everglades, where captured Burmese pythons have exceeded the length of minivans and weighed as much as grown men.
"I just thought it was as exciting as could be. It's a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity," said contestant Ron Polster, a retired salesman from Ohio whose closest encounter with the swamp has been from the highway heading south for the winter.
The stated goal of the competition is to raise awareness of the threat Burmese pythons pose to the Everglades ecosystem. The snakes are native to Southeast Asia and have no known predators in Florida.
A previously captured 13-foot Burmese python is held by Capt. Shawn Meiman for the press to view before U.S. Senator Bill Nelson took part in the state-sponsored snake hunt.
An airboat with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson aboard skims across sawgrass during a hunt for Burmese pythons during the state-sponsored snake hunt, in the Everglades, Fla. on Jan. 17.
A previously captured 13-foot Burmese python is held for the press to view on Jan. 17.