PETA Wins Partial Reforms as Wildlife Agency Revises Python-Killing Protocol

New Guidelines Place Stipulations on Beheading During Python Challenge

For Immediate Release:
January 28, 2016

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla. – Following a letter from PETA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) amended its approved killing methods for the 2016 Python Challenge. The challenge—which began on January 16—previously allowed lay participants to stun and then behead Burmese pythons, potentially causing immense suffering to animals who can often survive long after decapitation. New guidelines mandate that snakes be stunned only by skilled personnel—and make clear that stunning followed by decapitation is only an acceptable killing method when “immediately followed by brain destruction.”

PETA—which had asked the FWC to restrict approved killing methods to the use of captive-bolt guns or firearms, which, if used properly, instantly kill animals—will continue to push the FWC for a full ban on beheading.

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has taken a step in the right direction by restricting decapitation, which leaves many animals alive and suffering for hours in some cases,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Lori Kettler. “PETA will continue to call for more consideration for snakes and a permanent end to this cruel practice.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has also expressed concern that the 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 also cautions the 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.

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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