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Python Challenge. Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the state's 2013 Python Challenge, a Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus
) catching contest that the state is conducting in an effort to raise awareness about the Burmese python
and the snake's impact on the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades. The challenge is open to the general public as well as those with python hunting permits. There will be cash prizes for the person who captures the most Burmese pythons out of the Everglades and for the person who captures the longest snake. The challenge starts January 12 and ends at midnight February 10.
“The FWC is encouraging the public to get involved in helping us remove Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida,” Kristen Sommers, head of the FWC’s Exotic Species Coordination Section said in a press release put out by FWC. “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.
“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.”
Prizes include $1,500 cash for the person harvesting the most Burmese pythons and $1,000 for the person who captures the longest python. For more information, including what areas of the park are off limits to hunting, visit the FWC Python Challenge website.