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Reward offered for person who released python in Tampa

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 10:51 PM
TAMPA -

Dozens of reptile owners have come together to stop someone who released a python last week.

They are offering a $18,400 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for releasing a 12-foot Burmese python a week ago.

With increased public awareness of pythons, many owners are concerned that the public's image of them is inaccurate. The reward is offered by animal hobbyists and the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers.

Michael Cole operates Ballroom Pythons South in central Florida. He says most reptile owners are very responsible and hopes to end the negative publicity.

"Someone knows where this animal came from," he said. "It is not part of the Everglades population, they don't come this far north.

"And the animal was tame so it was a pet."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission extended the python hunt program to a year-round effort starting in January. It's to help eradicate giant, nonnative Burmese pythons from South Florida.

Anyone with information can call the FWC tip line at (888) 404-3922, or email Cole at ballroom@tampabay.rr.com

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