August 22, 2009

Florida expands python hunting

Licensed hunters will soon have permission to kill pythons and other invasive reptiles in South Florida, but only in season and with approved weapons.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the new policy Friday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. It takes effect Aug. 29.

Under the new rules, hunters with licenses for deer, hogs or alligators can kill Burmese pythons or any other listed reptile of concern. The list includes four more python species, the green anaconda and the Nile monitor lizard.

The allowed weapons are those in season -- muzzleloaders only, for example, during the muzzleloader season. Reptile kills must be reported to the commission.

The state recently authorized hunting by 13 experts licensed to go after reptiles. They have killed 14 pythons since the hunt began last month.

Thousands of Burmese pythons are believed to be living and breeding in the Everglades. They are descended from pets released when they got too large for their owners.