Ex-cop scores big for catching pythons

Out of a field of more than 600 participants, Charles Dachton won the $10,000 grand prize for removing 41 pythons from wildlife areas during the 2021 Florida Python Challenge.

That’s a little over $243 per python and five times more pythons than last year’s winner.

“They offered that big check this year,” Dachton told the Orlando Sentinel. “That got my attention.”

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Dachton, 61, is a retired Davie police officer and used to breed pythons and reptiles in the 1970s and ‘80s. His strategy involved targeting female pythons protecting their nests, a dangerous but successful tactic.

Participants in the challenge removed 223 pythons during the 10-day event, shattering last year’s total of 80.

The challenge started in 2013 to raise awareness about the invasive species and remove them from the environment. Since 2019, the state has stepped up pressure to reduce the invasive species.

Box full of pythons

Participants started the challenge July 9 and followed certain guidelines, including online training. But after that, the hunters are free to hunt.

The challenge awards prizes in two categories: amateur and professional.

  • Ultimate Grand Prize―$10,000
    • Charles Dachton, 41 pythons
  • 1st place for most pythons―$2,500
    • Professional: Donna Kalil, 19 pythons
    • Amateur: Tom Hobbs, 6 pythons
  • 2nd place for most pythons―$750
    • Professional: Kurt Cox, 15 pythons
    • Amateur: Derek Reynolds, 2 pythons
  • 1st for longest python―$1,500
    • Professional: Dusty Krum, 15 ft. 5 in.
    • Amateur: Brandon Call, 15 ft. 9 in.
  • 2nd place for longest python―$750
    • Professional: Myron Looker, 12 ft. 4.5 in.
    • Amateur: Shawn Allen, 13 ft. 8 in.

An administrative error kept Juan Gonzales off the list, but he also received $2,500 for removing eight pythons.

“Removing more than 200 Burmese pythons is a victory for our state as well as for the native animals that live here,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.

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