Environmental Protection

2013 Python Challenge in Florida

On Jan. 12, 2013, the Python Challenge will begin as a way to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how the species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem. Those who harvest the most and the largest pythons will be awarded cash prizes.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced the 2013 Python Challenge where both the public and Florida’s python permit holders are invited to compete to see who can harvest the longest and the most Burmese pythons.

The event will be a month-long program of harvesting Burmese pythons from public lands. The kickoff, held on Jan.12, will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research & Education Center, which will hold its invasive species open house that day.

“The FWC is encouraging the public to get involved in helping us remove Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida,” said Kristen Sommers, head of the FWC’s Exotic Species Coordination Section. “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.

For those that harvest the most Burmese pythons, $1,500 will be awarded to winners of both the General Competition and the Python Permit Holders Competition. Harvesting the longest python will receive $1,000 is both categories as well. Funding for the prizes has been provided by Python Challenge sponsors. To date, the longest python found in Florida was more than 17 feet long.

“Part of the goal of the Python Challenge is to educate the public to understand why nonnative species like Burmese pythons should never be released into the wild and encourage people to report sightings of exotic species,” Sommers said. “We also expect the competitive harvesting of Burmese pythons to result in additional information on the python population in south Florida and enhance our research and management efforts.”

For complete information on how to train, register, and participate in the event can be found at www.PythonChallenge.org.

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