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In an effort to combat the state's out-of-control burmese python population, Florida is starting a contest with a cash prize going to whoever can kill the most of the reptiles. Burmese pythons are a non-native species that have devastated the Everglades in the last 10 years, breeding at an outrageous rate and nearly wiping out many small mammal species. (A 17-foot snake captured earlier this year had 87 eggs inside it and another was found after eating a 76-pound deer.) With no natural predators in the area, it's up to humans to keep them in check, but the snakes are very good at hiding and tough to wrangle, which is why state wildlife officials will take any help they can get.

Florida established a python hunting season a few years ago, but this is the first time they've offered cash prizes to the best snake rustler. The 2013 Python Challenge will give $1,500 to whoever "harvests" the most burmese pythons over a 30-day period starting in January. There's also a prize for the hunter who catches the longest snake. And it's not just experienced hunters who are eligible. The contest is open to the general public, too, even those who don't have a python permit and have never hunted them before. They need everyone's help to get rid of the dang things. 

There's is one rule though. No road kill. You can keep the snake skins, but you actually have to slay the might beast yourself.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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