January 12, 2013 6:09:42 PM
MIAMI -- Nearly 800 people have signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands in Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is holding a month-long "Python Challenge." Officials are offering cash prizes to whoever brings in the longest python and whoever bags the most pythons.
The hunt starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and ends at midnight Feb. 10.
The Burmese python is an invasive species that experts say is decimating native wildlife in the Florida Everglades. Florida currently prohibits possession or sale of the pythons for use as pets. Federal law bans the importing and selling the species.
For the first time, the public is joining licensed hunters in the search for the snakes. Officials hope the competition will help rid the Everglades of the invaders.