Florida is a diverse outdoor state. The interior is home to some of the best freshwater fisheries in the country. The coast offers some of the best saltwater fishing. There are deer, turkeys, alligators, bears, panthers and countless species of birds that add to the incredible plethora of wildlife found in the state. Yet Florida has a new species that must be extinct. Burmese pythons are harming the Everglades ecosystem, and a new initiative seeks to eliminate as many of them as possible.
The Florida Python Challenge 2021 is a competition with an ultimate grand prize of $ 10,000 to the participant who removes the most pythons. It will start at 8 a.m. on July 9, 2021 and end on July 18, 2021 at 5 p.m. Registration is now open and people can register to participate until the last day of the event. There is a registration fee of $ 25 and participants must complete free online training.
The challenge is led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Foundation (SFWMD). It is supported by a sponsorship from Virtual Business Services. Even if you don’t win the top prize of $ 10,000, there are still opportunities to win thousands of dollars for the largest number of pythons in the “Professional” or “Novice” categories. There are also prices for the longest snakes in both categories. Active duty military personnel and veterans who enter the contest will be eligible for additional prizes.
In a press release, FWC President Rodney Barreto said, “This is a monumental contribution to the cause of the removal of Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem. We are grateful to Virtual Business Services for their generous donation and hope that this will generate more interest in this important effort. Working under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, we will continue to work with our partners to protect our natural resources from the threat of invasive species.
Burmese pythons are a non-native species that spreads throughout the Everglades. These giant snakes, which have been recorded to be over 18 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds, cause severe damage to native wildlife populations. They consume what they encounter, including nest eggs, both on the ground and in trees. They will eat everything from mice to deer.
“I would like to thank the public and all of our corporate sponsors for making this challenge possible. The South Florida Water Management District, the FWC and our partners in this great endeavor are teaming up to fight pythons and we will not stop until these invasive snakes are eliminated and the Everglades are protected, ”a declared a member of the board of directors of the SFWMD. “Alligator Ron” Bergeron.
Some of the main areas where pythons are found in South Florida include Everglades National Park, Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area, Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area, Big Cypress National Preserve, Collier -Seminole State Park, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and adjacent areas.
Even outside of competition, the rules of engagement for pythons in Florida are simple. If you come across one, kill it. For those who really want to go hunting, pythons are usually found near water. They can be on the ground or in trees. However, the vegetation is so thick in most areas that it is difficult to find them. The best is to locate them on the dikes along the canals and crossing roads at night.
If the python problem is not tackled aggressively, these snakes could become a much bigger problem. A female Burmese python can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. Since 2000, more than 13,000 Burmese pythons have reportedly been removed from the state of Florida. The hope is that the number is growing rapidly and the Florida Python Challenge 2021 is an attempt to make a serious impact.
If you’re ready to head to Florida to hunt pythons for a chance to win $ 10,000, go to www.FLPythonChallenge.org to enter the contest and take the online training. The website also has more information about Burmese pythons and the unique Everglades ecosystem they invade. You will also find many resources for planning your trip to South Florida to participate in the Florida Python Challenge.
See you soon on the track …