A Burmese python is displayed at the kickoff ceremonies in Davie, Fla., Jan. 12, 2013, for the 2013 Python Challenge organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. / AP Photo
MIAMI (AP) -- Florida wildlife officials say 68 Burmese pythons were caught and killed during a public hunt for the invasive snakes in the Everglades.
That tally might not seem impressive, considering that roughly 1,600 people signed up for the state-sponsored Python Challenge. But Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say the hunt may have prevented thousands more pythons from being born in the Everglades. Female pythons can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time.
The Python Challenge began Jan. 12 and ended Sunday. Wildlife officials said Saturday that the longest python bagged during the hunt was 14 feet 3 inches long.
Florida prohibits possession or sale of the pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of the species.