By Kevin Gray
MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida officials trying to eradicate the Giant African Land Snail, one of the world's most destructive invasive species, plan to deploy a new weapon in the battle - Labrador retrievers.
State agriculture authorities say they hope the dogs will add to their success in fighting an infestation of the slimy snails, which were first spotted by a homeowner nearly two years ago and quickly swept through the Miami area.
On Wednesday, officials said that since the start of an aggressive extermination campaign they have collected 128,000 of the snails, which can grow as big as rats and devour plants as well as stucco and plaster in a hunt for calcium they need to grow their big shells. In large numbers, the snails can cause extensive structural damage to buildings.
"We see a lot of strange things in Florida and this one makes the top of the list," said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. "It is a very serious pest."
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