ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A 17-foot Burmese python shocked a family when it slithered into a picnic area in Florida.
The family caught the massive snake on camera before a park ranger killed it, WESH-TV, Orlando, Fla., reported Friday. The report did not say where the incident occurred.
Pythons are an invasive species in the United States. Researchers say the growing population of the snakes in Florida have devastated rabbit, fox, possum and bobcat populations.
In January, the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission is scheduled host the 2013 python challenge. The person who kills the most pythons will with $1,500, while $1,000 will go to the person who kills the longest python.
Dog crate thieves halt pet adoptions
ATLANTA, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Thieves halted efforts to get some 40 homeless dogs new homes for the holidays in the Atlanta-area, pet rescue officials said.
Forty dog crates were stolen from behind a 9-foot-tall chain-link fence at Park Haven Pet Rescue in Dunwoody, Ga., last week and the dogs could not be taken to a local pet store Saturday for adoption.
"I did six adoptions last week and got those six dogs out of a high kill shelter," Dorease Shairrick, a volunteer at Pet Haven Rescue, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She said the black folding dog crates may have been taken on Christmas morning.
The crates, which will cost around $5,000 to replace, are spray-painted with the word "rescue." Dog bedding and four banners also were taken by the thieves.
The pet rescue group holds weekly adoption events at a PetSmart on Saturdays.
Survey: Italians stay home for New Year's
ROME, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- An Italian business association says its survey indicates more than eight in 10 Italians will stay home on New Year's Eve for financial or other reasons.
Confeserecenti said Friday the economic crisis is leading more Italians to spend the holiday at home and survey respondents said they plan to spend about 3 percent less than they did during last year's holiday, ANSA reported Friday.
The association said going to a restaurant is a more popular choice this year among those venturing out to celebrate. About 6 percent of respondents said they planned to go out for dinner on New Year's Eve, up from 2 percent last year.
No survey methodology or margin of error were provided.
Meanwhile, the Italian Farmers Confederation said about 90 million bottles of spumante, sweet Italian sparkling wine, are expected to be consumed in the country during the holiday, about the same as last year.
Swearing woman freed from jail
NILES, Mich., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A Michigan woman jailed over the Christmas holiday for swearing as she left a court clerk's office has been released on bond, officials said.
LaRue Ford left the Berren County Jail on Friday after her bond was reduced to $500. She had been jailed since Dec. 18 for cursing in the court clerk's office.
Ford said she was cussing to herself, not to the clerk, because she was frustrated as she attempted to clear up an old traffic ticket, WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich., said. A district judge ordered her arrested when she came back with $50 to pay the ticket.
Ford, 49, had no criminal record and has a master's degree in social work.
"It wasn't necessary, it wasn't even necessary to put me through all this," she told WOOD.
The American Civil Liberties Union had filed an emergency appeal to get Ford freed on bond.