$10,000 Award Offered for the Most Pythons Removed Through Florida Python Challenge
The award will go to this year's Florida Python Challenge participant who removes the most pythons.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, and the South Florida Water Management District have announced a new $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize award, sponsored by Virtual Business Services, for the 2021 Florida Python Challenge.
The goal of the Challenge is to increase awareness about invasive Burmese python and the harm they cause to Florida’s unique ecosystems.
The Florida Python Challenge also serves to inspire people to get directly involved in conservation practices by removing the harmful invasive species. Burmese pythons can be found primarily in and around the Everglades where they eat native and often threatened or endangered birds as well as other mammals and reptiles. Each female Burmese python can lay dozens to 100 eggs at a time.
Florida Python Challenge participants who do not win the $10,000 prize can still win money in other categories, including "novice" and special awards for active-duty military and veterans.
Through July 18, competitors will seek the longest, heaviest and most Burmese pythons.
The hunt will take place across more than one and a half million acres in South and Southwest Florida.
Kristen Sommers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the Python Challenge is part of a larger effort to control the invasive snakes.
“This is one of the management tools that we are using. So, it definitely helps remove pythons from the wild. Every python matters. Every python that we can remove, and engage the public to help us in those removal efforts, is helpful,” said Sommers.
Those wishing to qualify for awards must register for the competition, pay the registration fee of $25 and complete an online training. The 2021 Florida Python Challenge began at 8 a.m., July 9 and runs through 5 p.m., July 18.
Additional material from The News Service of Florida is included in this report.