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Senator joins ‘Python Challenge’ in Florida

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jan 17, 2013

THE EVERGLADES, Fla. (WSVN) -- U.S. Senator Bill Nelson joined thousands of hunters Thursday when he trekked through the Everglades looking for Burmese pythons.

Nelson was joining the ranks of people competing in the month-long “Python Challenge,” a public hunt for the species which is not native to the Everglades.

"We’ll be the third largest state. But when you fly over this state, the urban population is concentrated," Nelson said. "There are vast swaths of the state that are not only rural but unsettled and this is one of the major parts right here.”

Nelson was joined by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron. A self-proclaimed “Florida Cracker,” Nelson’s family is native to rural Florida for generations. He credits Governor Rick Scott for the state sponsored hunt.

“And we understand the environment and how important it is to the quality of all of our lives," Bergeron said. " I told the governor if we can send someone to the moon in a rocket ship, I’m sure we can save the Everglades. I think it’s very important.”

Researchers are hoping the hunt will give them more information about where the snakes are nesting and what they’re eating and in doing so, give them ideas on how to control the population of the Burmese python, which has no natural predators in Florida.