Florida Opens Python Hunting Challenge to Help Burmese Python Problem
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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