The South Florida python hunt is back on.
In it's efforts to rid the state of the out of control python population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced yesterday that it is making its licensed snake hunts a year-long operation.
Beginning in 2010, licenses to hunt the non-native predators will last from January through December.
In July, the FWC issued special permits allowing hunters to capture and kill Burmese pythons and other "reptiles of concern" on state-managed wildlife areas.
Permits were issued to 15 experts, who caught 39 pythons in the experimental program that lasted until Oct. 31, according to the FWC.
"We were able to collect some initial data during the first phase of this program that will help us determine the extent of the population on state-managed lands," FWC's Scott Hardin said in a statement. "We want to continue allowing experts out there to ensure this exotic species does not spread any farther north in Florida."
The experts are required to have experience in capturing wild snakes, euthanizing reptiles and working in remote areas. They must be Florida residents and have a GPS system and digital camera to photograph captured snakes.
There are estimates that as many as 150,000 Burmese pythons are on the loose in Florida. A non-native species, the pythons were likely introduced into Florida by owners who ditched them and many escaped in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, according to officials.
Releasing pythons into the wild is illegal, and any snakes over two inches in diameter must be implanted with a tracking and identifying microchip.
Any Steve Irwin types interested in joining the great python hunt can get an application at myfwc.com.