Southerland and possum
Heather Leiphart / Associated Press

Florida wildlife officials are investigating a Northwest Florida festival after an animal rights group complained. The 45-year-old Wausau Possum Festival has been a longtime favorite campaign stop for politicians.

The tiny Panhandle town of Wausau bills itself as the “Possum Capital of the United States.” Its annual Possum Festival includes beauty pageants, a live-possum auction and, most years, politicians.

Scott shaking opossum
The Goulding Agency via YouTube

Organizers of a decades-old Northwest Florida possum festival are meeting tonight to discuss options after an animal-rights group complained to the state. The Wausau Possum Fest has long been a favorite campaign stop for politicians.

Governors, congressmen and local candidates have all graced the stage of the nearly 50-year-old Wausau Possum Fest. The tradition is for possum auction winners to grab a live opossum by its tail and shake it. Festival proceeds fund scholarships for nearby students.

Associated Press

Florida’s Python hunt is underway. Wildlife officials are offering cash prizes to encourage hunters to catch and kill as many of the invasive species living in the Everglades as possible. The event has attracted hundreds of amateurs armed with machetes and guns but one animal rights group is concerned.

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, worries about using decapitation as one of three legal methods Florida Wildlife Officials have authorized for killing pythons. Lori Kettle with PETA, is calling on the state to ban the practice.

PETA Wants Decapitation Ban In Fla. Snake-Hunting Contest

Jan 10, 2013

The state of Florida is gearing up for a massive python hunting contest in the Everglades starting on Saturday. But an animal rights group is calling for the state to ban decapitation as a method of killing the giant snakes.

Decapitation is one of three lethal methods the state has authorized in the Python Challenge. The contest, which has cash prizes, is attracting hunters from all over the U.S. to help the state fight an infestation of non-native Burmese pythons.