University of Florida researchers say they have received more than two dozen harvested Burmese pythons as part of the state's "Python Challenge."
More than 1,000 people signed up to hunt pythons in the Everglades through Feb. 10 in the hopes of winning cash prizes.
Competitors are allowed to keep the python skins, once researchers finish examining the snakes.
Burmese pythons, native to southern Asia, became established in the Everglades through the exotic pet trade just over a decade ago. They have since spread like wildfire in favorable environmental conditions and with no natural predator to keep the overpopulating snake in check.
Scientists can only guess at the population of Burmese pythons in the vast expanse of the Everglades, estimating the number could be in the tens of thousands.
The Florida Everglades, currently two and a half square miles of animal reserve, host about 36 species that are protected by the federal government who are also put in danger of extinction due to the ever-growing problem. Pythons have been known to devour almost any wildlife animal in their reach including deer and alligators.
A record-size python, pregnant with 87 eggs was captured just last year.
Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida and a well-known expert on Everglades wildlife, who helped design the Python Challenge, said the month-long hunt won't eradicate the snakes, but it could provide valuable information about the snakes and the effectiveness of using hunters to go after them.