HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - Hunters paid by the state of Florida will be allowed to remove invasive Burmese pythons from Everglades National Park.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Thursday that expanding its python hunt from state wetlands into the national park will help remove invasive species from the wild and advance python research.
The expansion could begin as early as July.
Tens of thousands of pythons are estimated to be slithering through the Everglades. Scientists say the giant constrictor snakes have eliminated 99 percent of the native mammals in the Everglades, decimating food sources for native predators such as panthers and alligators.
Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos says that hunting remains prohibited in Everglades National Park, but allowing state contractors to remove pythons "will be welcomed by concerned citizens."