FORT MYERS, Fla. — Once again, the Florida Python Challenge is back and provoking snake wranglers and python predators to remove as many Burmese pythons as they can from the state’s Everglades.
The challenge is hosted by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Water Management District, and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
Sarah Funck, Nonnative program, FWC says this year’s challenge is welcome to all participants with cash prizes for the longest and most removed pythons.
“And in fact, we just got a new sponsor, virtual business services who is offering through our python challenge a $10,000 ultimate grand prize for the registrant that removes the most pythons overall,” said Funck.
A non-native species to Florida- the Burmese python is a threat to the area's ecosystem and native animals who call the Everglades home.
“We want people to know about the invasive species issues in the state of Florida and how detrimental they can be to our state’s ecology, economy, and even our safety in some cases. So we really use this python challenge as an opportunity to spread that information and to encourage the public to be engaged, actively engaged in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal,” said Funck.
Throughout the year, Funck told Fox 4, the FWC is working on new ways to help rid south Florida of the pesky pythons.
“We have a python detector dog team that is trained on the scent of python to try and find them in the field. we also looking at developing a new type of camera using infrared with our partners at the University of Central Florida, and that camera can be mounted with that new technology to a truck that would go into the field and improve our visual searches,” she said.
The 10-day challenge ends on July 18.
Participants can register at any time during the competition and must pay a $25 fee and complete a free online training course.
Funck says since 2000, more than 13,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from Florida.