It’s done. Hunters have smashed the record for catching Burmese pythons during the state-sanctioned hunt when they raised the number bagged to 82 as of Monday.
That surpasses the 2013 catch by 14 during the inaugural Python Challenge. Organizers say this time around more training and cool weather has likely helped hunters. The snakes, which have infested the Everglades and taken over as top predator gobbling up small mammals, have also had more time to rebound after a 2010 freeze, said University of Florida biologist Frank Mazzotti.
Most snakes so far have been caught along the Tamiami Trail and in conservation areas to the north, where they are well-documented, he said.
On Friday, a 15-footer was caught. Earlier in the hunt, state wildlife officers snared a monster just over 16 feet long in South Miami-Dade County.
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The number will likely continue to grow as the hunt ends Feb. 14.