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Monthlong Burmese Python Hunt Ends Sunday

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(Courtesy: Robert Hill, South Florida Water Management)

(Courtesy: Robert Hill, South Florida Water Management)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Motivated by cash and curiosity, more than 1,500 hunters are deep in the Everglades on a final push to dent the Burmese python population.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said Friday that the tally of pythons killed in the Python Challenge is holding at 50. That number hasn’t changed since Tuesday.

The hunt began Jan. 12 and ends at midnight Sunday. The state is offering cash prizes to whoever brings in the longest python and whoever bags the most pythons.

State officials hope to raise awareness about the threats invasive species pose to native wildlife. University of Florida researchers are examining the snake carcasses.

Two python hunters from Tennessee had to be airlifted Thursday from the Everglades. The Broward Sheriff’s Office says they became “stranded and disoriented” and had to be rescued by helicopter.

Authorities say the men “complained of lightheadedness and weakness and were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration.”

The contest marks the first time the public, who usually lack the permits required to harvest pythons on public lands, is joining licensed hunters in the search for the snakes.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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