August 9, 2022
So far, more than 800 competitors have signed on for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge in the Florida Everglades, which began on Friday, August 5 and will continue through 5 p.m. (EDT) on August 15. The entrants are in search of invasive Burmese pythons, which they hope will bring them thousands of dollars in prize money, reports Fox News.
According to the National Park Service, Burmese pythons now are established in the park, due to accidental or intentional release of captive pet animals. Pythons eat many different kinds of animals, and studies show that pythons are probably the main reason that mammals have declined very sharply in number in Everglades National Park.
Even though pythons are large snakes, their coloring and behavior allow them to blend into the environment. Since they are so hard to find in the wild, estimating the number that reside in the park is nearly impossible. A female python can lay as many as 100 eggs a year.A
“This is significant because every python removed is one less invasive species preying on our native birds, mammals, and reptiles,” Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis told the Associated Press.
Since 2000, when the event began, more than 17,000 pythons have been removed from the Everglades ecosystem, according to a news release.
Cash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories for those who remove the most pythons, officials said. There are additional prizes for the longest python in each category. Each python must be dead, with hunters facing disqualification if they kill them inhumanely or kill a native snake.
So far, the registered hunters represent 32 states and Canada. Registrations are being accepted throughout the competition. It costs $25 to register and participants also must complete an online training course.
Research contact: @FoxNews