- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Snake-hunters take note: Authorities are expanding Florida’s next public hunt for invasive Burmese pythons into Everglades National Park.

The “Python Challenge” will run from Jan. 16 through Feb. 14. The national park was excluded from the 2013 contest, which drew 1,600 participants but netted only 68 pythons.

Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos said in a statement Tuesday that authorities hope the expanded access prompts more people to participate in programs that would allow them to remove pythons year-round from the park and state lands.

Training events are planned to teach registered participants how to identify and capture pythons. State wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron said officials hope the hunt increases python sightings and removals in the wetlands.

Scientists say thousands of pythons are to blame for the decline of native wildlife across Florida’s Everglades.

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Online: Python Challenge, www.PythonChallenge.org

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