PETA Blasts Florida Over Python Decapitations

Florida's semi-annual Python Challenge is set to kick off again January 16, and in advance, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is blasting the state for allowing hunters to decapitate the reptiles during the great snake hunt. PETA claims the method causes the snakes prolonged pain and is asking the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to restrict sanctioned killings to more humane methods. 

The Python Challenge, which carries on for four weeks, is one of the state's stranger methods to curb the growing invasive python population. After registering at a cost of $25 for a single person or $75 for a team, the state gives out awards of up to $5,000 for most snakes captured and the longest snake collected. 

Participants can either trap the reptiles alive or euthanize them onsite. 

Indeed, the official Python Challenge website lists three approved methods of euthanizing snakes: using a captive bolt, using a firearm, or decapitating the snake. The first two methods destroy the snake's brain, killing the animal instantly. 

The state does recognize that decapitation is "not the recommended method of euthanizing pythons" but claims that stunning the snake and then decapitating is "considered an acceptable method of euthanizing large snakes by the American Veterinary Medical Association."

PETA, however, maintains that the method is inhumane. 

"Pythons who have had their heads hacked off remain alive and will writhe in agony for hours if their brains are not immediately destroyed," said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk in a statement. "PETA is calling on Florida officials to stop authorizing snake decapitation and make it clear that this egregiously inhumane killing method is unacceptable."

Unfortunately, we did just discover there are videos online of that sort of thing that we wouldn't recommend viewing if you've just had lunch. It's not a pretty sight. 

PETA is wary of the whole endeavor, and believes that adding monetary value to killing snakes actually only worsens the problem. However, they're restricting their official protest to simply asking the state to end the decapitations. 

During the last Python Challenge in 2013, 68 snakes were captured or killed, though FWC didn't publicize how many were taken alive and how many were euthanized in the wild. 
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Kyle Munzenrieder