61 pythons caught so far in Florida’s ‘Python Challenge’

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 12: BR Slocum(L) and his grandson Kyle Storch hunt for python's in the Florida Everglades on the first day of the 2013 Python Challenge on January 12, 2013 in Miami, Florida.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and its partners launched the month long 2013 Python Challenge to harvest Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades, a species that is not native to Florida.The contest features prizes of $1,000 for catching the longest snake and $1,500 for catching the most. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — Florida wildlife officials say 61 Burmese pythons have been caught so far in a state-sanctioned hunt.

Cool temperatures and more training for hunters may be helping. The monthlong “Python Challenge” ends Feb. 14.

The last public hunt for pythons on state lands, in 2013, netted 68 of the snakes, the longest measuring over 14 feet.

The beginning of this year’s hunt coincided with a cold snap across South Florida. Chilly weather can drive the snakes into the open as they seek warmth.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission updated its tally Tuesday, adding 22 more pythons caught through the weekend.

The snakes that are captured are killed and turned over to researchers, who are searching for clues to help control the python population in the Everglades.

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