Florida python hunts proposed

MIAMI – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called Tuesday for organized hunts of thousands of pythons believed to be living in the Everglades to kill the snakes and prevent potential attacks.

Nelson requested permission in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who got a close-up look at a 15-foot python found in the swampland during a May visit hosted by the senator. The request also comes weeks after a 2-year-old central Florida girl was strangled by an unlicensed pet python that escaped from a terrarium in her home.

“They are threatening endangered wildlife there,” the Democratic lawmaker wrote to his former Senate colleague, “and, Lord forbid, a visitor in the Everglades ever encounters one.”

Also Tuesday, another lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., introduced legislation to allow python hunts in the Everglades.

Nelson has estimated 100,000 pythons are living in the Everglades, an invasive species population believed to be the result at least in part of pets being released into the wild when they grow too big.

The senator asked Salazar to approve supervised hunts of the snakes by U.S. Park Service staff, other authorities and volunteers to kill the pythons en masse.


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