Got the guts to win $10,000? The Florida Python Challenge starts tomorrow, and for the first time, a sponsor is putting ten grand on the line as the ultimate grand prize.
To win, you need to remove the most burmese pythons from Florida wildlife areas starting Friday and ending at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 18.
Besides the ultimate grand prize donated by Virtual Business Services, participants could also win thousands of dollars for capturing the most pythons in the “professional” or “novice” categories as well as a prize for the longest snake. Special prizes will also be given to active-duty military personnel and veterans.
“This is a monumental contribution to the cause of removing Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem,” FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said in a statement. “We are grateful to Virtual Business Services for their generous donation and hope this sparks more interest in this important effort.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Water Management District and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida began the challenge in 2013 to raise awareness about the invasive species and remove them from the environment.
The state government has stepped up the hunt for pythons since 2019. Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed FWC personnel to hunt for pythons in state parks and announced the U.S. Department of Interior had granted requests to access federal lands as well.
Since 2000, more than 13,000 pythons have been removed from Florida, but 5,250 of those have come since 2019, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife press release.
At a June 3 press event, DeSantis announced the opening of registration for the 2021 Florida Python Challenge.
“Since taking office, I have been focused on protecting, restoring and preserving the Everglades for future generations,” DeSantis said. “As a part of my focus, I’ve charged FWC with dedicating more resources and taking innovative approaches to removing invasive Burmese pythons.”
In 2020, 750 participants registered for the challenge, coming from 20 different states and removing 80 pythons in 10 days.
If you want to take part, here are a few requirements:
- All pythons must be removed during the competition time frame.
- All pythons must be removed from designated areas.
- Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area
- Frog Pond Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Rocky Glades Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area
- Holey Land Wildlife Management Area
- Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
- Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area
- All participants must register online and pay the $25 registration fee.
- All participants must take a training video course online and pass the quiz.
Pythons are an invasive species that hurt native Floridian wildlife, especially in the southern portion of the state near the Everglades. Pythons reproduce quickly because females can lay from 50 to 100 eggs at once.