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Humane Methods for Killing Pythons

There is an ethical obligation to ensure a wild caught Burmese python is killed in a humane manner that results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the brain. There are several ways to accomplish this task, including using a captive bolt or an air gun to destroy the python’s brain quickly and completely. You will be disqualified from the competition if you are found to have inhumanely killed a python or any native snake.

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Use the image provided to ensure proper location for brain destruction when using captive bolt guns, air guns or decapitation followed by pithing. 

To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye (Farris et al. in press). While one person is holding the python in place, position the captive bolt where those lines intersect. The bolt must enter at a slight angle, not flush to the skull.

A second way is to shoot the captured python in the head with an air gun, being sure to use a safe but effective caliber and making sure that you destroy the python’s brain. The bullet must be placed in the same area as the captive bolt. To target the correct area, draw an imaginary line from the rear left of the head to the right eye, and then draw another line from the rear right of the head to the left eye. The intersection of these lines is your target. Note: Firearms are not an allowable method to kill a python during this timeframe because there are not established hunting seasons on any of the Competition Locations.

Although not the recommended method of killing pythons, cranial concussion (stunning) by skilled personnel followed by decapitation is considered an acceptable method of killing large snakes by the American Veterinary Medical Association if immediately followed by brain destruction. Use a machete or other appropriately sharp tool. The tool selected should be capable of decapitating the python as quickly and efficiently as possible. Keep in mind if you choose this method, you must quickly follow up by destroying the brain with the use of an air gun, captive bolt or other effective method such as pithing.​

Regardless of the technique you choose, make sure your technique results in immediate loss of consciousness and destruction of the Burmese python’s brain.

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