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Florida Opens Python Hunting Challenge to Help Burmese Python Problem

Python Challenge 2013

Florida wildlife officials are trying to fight against the overwhelming invasion of the Burmese pythons, that have colonized the Everglades, by holding a hunting contest.

The hunt will be sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will run from January 12 to February 10, 2013. The public and python permit holders will have a chance to compete to see who can harvest the longest and most Burmese pythons.

The FWC plans to hand out $1,500 to the hunter who harvests the most Burmese pythons and $1,000 to the hunter who catches the longest snake.  To date, the longest python ever captured in Florida was 17 feet long.

No hunting license is required, but participants must be 18-years or older as well as pay a $25 entry fee and complete a 40-minute online training course called REDDy, which stands for Introduced Reptile Early Detection & Documentation. The course will help people recognize pythons and other non-native species they’re not supposed to kill in this hunting contest.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Spokeswoman Carli Segelson says the Python Challenge is about invasive species education as much as it is a competition. "One thing I think that is an important point for us to make is for people to understand really the negative impacts that can be had when you release nonnative species into the wild. This can be very detrimental to Florida’s nature ecosystem and native wildlife."

Kristen Sommers, head of the FWC's Exotic Species Coordination Section explained, "The FWC is encouraging the public to get involved in helping us remove Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida. 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 contest rules can be found on PythonChallenge.org, but some note-worthy ones are: You will be disqualified from the competition if you harvest and turn in a snake that was once originally possessed as a pet or a snake taken from a location other than the WMA locations.

Another rule for the python challenge that is interesting is, you will be disqualified for posting inhumane photos or videos or for posting photos or videos of illegal activities on social media.

Florida prohibits possession or sale of Burmese pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of this species.

2013 Python Challenge

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's 2013 Python Challenge™ invites the public to register for and compete in a month-long harvest of Burmese pythons. The public also can attend two south Florida events to see and learn about these large constrictors and their threat to the Everglades.


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15 Responses »

  1. Too many rules! And too short a time period. Kill them all, hunters! Pythons do not belong in the Everglades.

  2. No, the hunters need to be educated, and you need rules. The Everglades has many native snake species that are important in keeping rats and mice populations under control. If you can't tell the difference between a Burmese python and a native snake, you shouldn't be out there, vying for the prize.
    The pythons need to be wiped out. They've already wiped out the native animals such as raccoons, foxes and many birds. When they can't find a four legged animal to eat, they will come looking for your dog-or your toddler.
    But you need rules, too. The rules should include not killing a snake until you know it's a python.
    Don't depend on it's size to tell you...there are little pythons out there, too.
    You have to be careful, too. These pythons are smart, and not afraid of humans. Heck, they've killed and eaten full grown gators, and you KNOW how tough they are. A big python will not think of a human as a predator. It will think of a human as DINNER.

    Yeah, you need rules. but I agree...the pythons need to be wiped out. Completely. and I don't want to hear the snake breeders whine. They're the reason the snakes are in the Everglades to begin with.

  3. Any time you need an animal exterminated all you have to do is have people make some money from killing it. This contest is OK but it won't be effective. It's much too limited. Here's a very simple solution. It nearly worked for snowy egrets and gators. It did work for wolves out west. It nearly worked for the buffalo. I have seen estimates of 100,000 pythons in Florida. It is claimed the average python is about 10 feet. That's one million feet of python. Have open season and pay twenty five cents an inch. That's $3.00 a foot. There's enough people running around the south Florida swamps and WMAs that the pythons would be nearly exterminated within a few years. People could bring the snakes to the various FWC offices for measurement. A license could be sold like a hunting licenses are now sold. If the estimates of numbers and average length estimates are correct, it would take about $3 million. That would be a lot of money for my checking account but that's not much at all for state government. Besides, money would be forthcoming from the licenses and the affected counties could chip in. There are plenty of people that live in and roam through those marshes and swamps that could use the money. I don't know of anyone that would pass up the chance to make an easy $30 and do something for the environment at the same time.

  4. The cheapskate prize money is an insult. I won't be there.

  5. Who is the genius who thinks that $1500 is enough of an incentive to go hunting these super scary predators? I'm no expert; but it seems like you'd need to hunt in packs of 4 to get the upper hand on these killers.

  6. It will be mucc better if Burmese Python meat is offered at restaurants. then the specie will vanish in few years

  7. So, I need a $25 permit. Okay. I'm a hunter. I know about permits.

    And I need a $250.00 GPS with tracking capabilities. Not okay. When I hunt, I carry a topo map and a compass and I know how to find my way home. GPS just enables those who shouldn't be anywhere near the wilderness. How many rescues will be required? Methinks this has not been well thought out.

    To eliminate these invaders quickly, make the permits free and say python tastes like chicken.

  8. You can sell the snakes for about 1000 times what they will pay.

  9. It is illegal to sell these snakes.

  10. Just because it's against the "rules" doesn't mean people aren't going to secretly go get and kill pet snakes to try to win. Useless.

  11. I agree, Katie, that there will be cheaters. But a pet snake isn't cheap. Why kill a 'pet' snake when there's thousands of the pythons free for the capturing in the glades? Roger is right. Wolves, egrets, bison...all were exterminated because there was money involved, in the form of bounties on wolves and bison...horrible...and egrets, etc, because people wanted to wear their feathers (stupid). The Carolina parakeet (North America's only native parrot) was exterminated so that people could wear the bodies on their heads. I mean, STUPID!!!!!!!
    But it is vitally important that people who go out hunting pythons KNOW what a python looks like. The Glades have already taken a huge hit in the ecological balance, we don't need the snakes that belong there killed off, too.
    I wish Florida would also put a bounty on iguanas and monitor lizards.

    I think $1500 is plenty of money for doing the right thing: ridding the glades of the pythons. I say, have at it, hunters, the more pythons you kill the better.

    I don't know about eating python, but I know that their skins make great looking boots.

Trackbacks

  1. On Our Radar: A Python Hunting Contest - NYTimes.com
  2. The 2013 Python Challenge: Florida Wants You to Hunt its Snakes | TIME.com