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Snake-sniffing dogs find pythons in the park

Labrador retrievers have been helpful in tracking down snakes in Everglades National Park. (REUTERS)

Some dogs trained to sniff out bombs are turning their noses toward a very different target: Burmese pythons in Florida’s Everglades National Park.

“The dogs are really, really good,” said Christina Romagosa, a biologist at Auburn University in Alabama, which runs the EcoDogs program. (Its “detection dogs” can find “just about anything that smells,” according to its Web site.)

Two black Labrador retrievers from EcoDogs, Ivy and Jake, went to Florida in 2010 to show how they could help battle the python problem in the 2,358-square-mile park.

Environmentalists fear that the pythons are upsetting the natural balance of South Florida. The snakes are not native to the area, but they live there in the thousands.

The EcoDogs found pythons at the park 75 to 92 percent of the time. Ivy and Jake helped researchers trap 19 of the snakes, including one that was pregnant with 19 eggs, according to an EcoDog report.

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