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Florida Fish & Wildlife Announce 2024 Python Challenge

ⓒ Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission

The 2024 edition of the Python Challenge has been announced by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, with help from Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. Since 2013, the challenge has been one of several ways of combating the spread of the invasive Burmese python in and around the Everglades.

The challenge is set to take place from August 9th to 18th, with registration opening on Thursday. Participants will compete to see who can capture the most pythons in separate categories for professional, novice, and military competitors. Over $25,000 will be given out as prizes for the top snake-captors at the end of the contest.

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“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ unwavering dedication to Everglades restoration, Florida continues to make record investments in protecting the state’s unique natural resources for future generations, including the targeted removal of the invasive Burmese python,” Nuñez said in the announcement. “I wish all participants a memorable and safe hunt, and I look forward to congratulating this year’s winners.”

Over the 1990’s and early 00’s, the Burmese python established a breeding population in the Everglades. The snakes were introduced to the area primarily via the exotic pet trade. They’ve been blamed for the drastic reductions in local populations of prey animals such as rabbits, raccoons, opossums. Beyond that, they’ve been known to out-compete native predators for the same food sources – namely the American alligator.

The Burmese python is native to much of Southeast Asia, particularly India, Vietnam, and Myanmar (the nation formerly known as Burma). They’ve been confirmed at lengths of up 19 feet, longer than any snake native to North America. By weight, they’re the second largest snake in the world behind only the green anaconda of South America.

Fortunately for those attempting to handle them, Burmese pythons do not inject a venom upon biting, instead choosing to subdue their prey by wrapping their bodies around it and strangling them to death. According to a 2014 report from LiveScience, few humans have been so much as mildly wounded by Burmese pythons in the Florida wild, though there have been documented killings of humans by captive snakes. Scientists believe the pythons recognize that humans are too large to swallow whole, and thus are not worth attacking.

“The great partnership between the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is critical as we continue to work together to protect the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, conserve native wildlife, and combat invasive pythons,” said Ron Bergeron, Governing Board Member of the South Florida Water Management District. “We continue to expedite Everglades restoration efforts thanks to the support of Governor Ron DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to protect this important ecosystem. The Everglades is one of the natural wonders of the world, and the Python Challenge is another great way to get people directly involved in the protection of the Everglades. Long live the Everglades!”

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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