Florida Launches Python Hunting Challenge to Help Reduce Burmese Pythons in Everglades

Posted on December 8, 2012

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have launched the 2013 Python Challenge to help reduce the number of invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades ecosystems. There are estimated to be tens of thousands of the pythons in the Everglades. The general public is invited to participate in the python hunt, which begins on January 12, 2013. There are two categories of python hunters in the challenge - the general public and Python permit holders. There will be a grand prize of $1,500 to the person harvesting the most pythons in each category. There is also an extra $1,000 award in each category for the longest python harvested.

The FWC provided a brochure advising the best methods of finding pythons. Hunters are also shown photographs of native snakes, such as the Eastern diamondback rattlesnakee, so they don't kill one by mistake or get bitten by one. There are also tips for how to dispatch of the pythons, such as using a captive bolt, firearm or decapitation with a machete. The site advises to be sure to destroy the python's brain no matter what method you use, as this minimizes pain for the python and ensures the python will no longer be a threat. There is a $25 fee to enter the contest.

This contest will likely result in many dead pythons, but it may not be the safest challenge for everyone, as there is not only the risk of encountering snakes, but untrained humans with firearms and machetes.

Kristen Sommers, head of the FWC's Exotic Species Coordination Section, said in a statement, "By enlisting both the public and Florida's python permit holders in a month-long competitive harvesting of Burmese pythons, we hope to motivate more people to find and harvest these large, invasive snakes. The Python Challenge gives people a chance to sign up for a competition to see who can catch the longest or the most pythons."

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