This year, in an Everglades public hunting competition, 104 pythons were killed. An examination of their digestive systems was conducted at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, revealing the remains of seven alligators and 50 mammals, including two deer, Sun Sentinel reports.
For the past twenty years, there has been increasing alarm concerning the snakes’ impact on the Everglades’ fragile ecosystem. They were introduced through the exotic pet industry, and discerning their population numbers proves difficult, due to low detectability.
More than 1,000 snake hunters participated in the competition this year, and the largest snake killed measured 15 feet, much shorter than the near-record-smashing 18-foot, 3-incher caught last year. The largest Florida python ever caught was 18-feet, 8-inches, according to state wildlife officials.
Now the state of Florida has doubled their budgets to battle this invasive species, investing another $1.2 million in recurring funds this year, Sun Sentinel reports. Among their plans is introducing detection dogs into the field, which are “able to find snakes faster than people can,” said Kristen Sommers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING: The video below contains some graphic footage.