Hundreds of Maniacs Sign Up To Hunt Pythons in the Everglades This Weekend

Does slogging around a foreboding, swampy wilderness searching for man-hungry pythons that can grow longer than a city block sound like your idea of a fun weekend? For hundreds of people from around the country, the answer is a resounding yes.

More than 400 souls who have apparently never seen cinematic masterpiece "Anaconda" have already signed up for Florida's 2013 Python Challenge. Starting on Saturday, they'll compete for $1,000 for slaying the biggest invasive snake.

In a stroke of Hollywood brilliance, Florida is not requiring any of these would-be python killers to have hunting licenses or any experience at all handling snakes.

In fact, all they have to do to get the Sunshine State nod to go after the giant reptiles is to take a quick online training.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, that. Also, even if the snakes don't fell these scores of possibly ill-trained hunters, the Everglades themselves might just do the trick, some experts warn.

"Going out into the bush in Florida is a potentially dangerous thing to do," Stuart Pimm, a prominent Everglades scientist at Duke University tells the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "This is very, very rough terrain. Getting stuck out there without enough water could be a life-terminating experience."

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it's totally got a handle on it, and will offer extra training on the ground for everyone coming to the Glades to hunt pythons this weekend.

Besides, someone's got to kill these things before they eat every mammal left in the wilderness. "People understand that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with and are very supportive and understand that these actions are warranted," Carli Segelson, an FFWCC spokeswoman, tells the Sun Sentinel.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink