Florida Agency Under Fire for Allowing Decapitation in Python Killing Contest

PETA Urges Organizers to Ban Decapitation, Stop Offering Cash Awards to People Who Kill Snakes

For Immediate Release:
January 5, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla. – Despite veterinary experts’ warning that there is no humane way for laypersons to stun and decapitate a snake in the field, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is permitting participants in the 2016 Python Challenge, which starts on January 16, to kill Burmese pythons by stunning them and cutting off their heads. In response, PETA sent FWC a letter this morning urging officials to restrict approved killing methods to the use of captive-bolt guns or firearms, which, if used properly, instantly kill the animals.

PETA also cautions FWC that bounty-like efforts—such as the Python Challenge’s rewards of up to $5,000—to eradicate invasive species have been scientifically proved not to work. A report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey even concluded that “any feature that adds value to an invasive species … creates economic pressure to assure the population’s continuation.”

“Pythons who have had their heads hacked off remain alive and will writhe in agony for hours if their brains are not immediately destroyed,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Florida officials to stop authorizing snake decapitation and make it clear that this egregiously inhumane killing method is unacceptable.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has also expressed concern that FWC provides Python Challenge participants with contact information for businesses that will purchase python skins, thereby increasing the economic motivation for people to take shots that aren’t clear and may merely wound the animals to keep them from escaping.

PETA’s letter to FWC is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind