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Python hunters kill 21 snakes so far in Florida's Everglades

Hunters have so far killed 21 pythons during Florida's monthlong “Python Challenge”.

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DAVIE, FL - JANUARY 12: A Burmese python is seen on display at the registration event and press conference for the start of the 2013 Python Challenge on January 12, 2013 in Davie, Florida.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and its partners launched the month long 2013 Python Challenge to harvest Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades, a species that is not native to Florida.The contest features prizes of $1,000 for catching the longest snake and $1,500 for catching the most. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (JOE RAEDLE /AFP/Getty Images)

Python hunters taking part in Florida's "Python Challenge' have so far killed 21 of the giant snakes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Florida Everglades are being overrun by the invasive species, which are not native the the US and have no natural predators.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission invited hunters from all around the country to come down to the Everglades and help rid the swamps of the invasive snakes. 

Their website says the hunt was set up "to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife." 

Officials say the Burmese pythons are consuming Everglades wildlife at an alarming rate, reports AP.

It takes a lot of food to fuel a snake that can grow up to 23 feet in length and weigh over 200 pounds. The pythons have been devouring native Florida mammals, birds, reptiles and even a few family pets. 

The snakes' brownish color makes them blend into the natural environment of the swampland, making them hard to spot.

When a hunter does get lucky, they must record the snake's size and exact GPS location where it was found to help researchers understand more about the damage caused by the pythons and how to better protect the environment, according to the LA Times. 

Grand prizes include $1,500 to whoever harvests the most pythons and $1,000 for the longest.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130119/python-hunters-kill-21-snakes-so-far-floridas-ev