MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The fight to get rid of the giant African land snail in South Florida has been long and slow, but Wednesday, the state announced Florida has won the battle with the invasive pest.

After years of fighting to get rid of the destructive land snail, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced their eradication at a news conference at Douglas Park in Miami, where the first giant African land snail was found.

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Giant African Land Snails (Source: CBS4)

The snails which were found in Miami in 2011 are one of the most damaging snails in the world because they consume at least 500 types of plants, can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans and animals.

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Since the first snail was found in 2011, the state collected more than 168,000 of them with help from a team of snail-sniffing dog detectors.

Originally from East Africa, the GALS, Achatina fulica, is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to 8 inches in length. Each snail can live as long as 9 years. GALS are difficult to eradicate because they have no natural predator and they reproduce exponentially, up to 1,200 more snails per year.

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In order for a species to be eradicated, it must be three years since a live one is found and the last live giant African land snail was reported in 2017. Team