Only in the magical state of Florida is the Governor announcing dates for the states annual python hunting challenge considered standard operating procedure.
Governor Ron DeSantis visited Everglades National Park yesterday to announce that registration for the event is now open. This years annual Florida Python Challenge will run from Friday, July 9 through Sunday, July 18. Registration costs $25.
“As part of my focus on restoring the Everglades I’ve charged FWC with dedicating more resources and taking innovative approaches to removing invasive Burmese pythons, which can grow to 20 feet in length, weigh up to 200 pounds and cause major damage to the ecosystem.”
According to ClickOrlando, the governor said the python challenge was previously held every three years, but he has moved to make it an annual occurrence.
“We’ve also expanded access for Python removers in the state parks, as well as worked with the U.S. Department of Interior to increase access to federal lands for Python removal — particularly within the Big Cypress National Preserve.
And as a result of our efforts FWC had a record year for Python removal in 2020. It was about a 35% increase in the number of pythons, year over year between 2019 and 2020.”
The goal of the Python Challenge is to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecosystems and to get more people involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal. Those interested in actively removing Burmese pythons from the Everglades can register to participate.
The event has expanded beyond just the snake hunting competition though, and also includes virtual education and python eradication training sessions. Participants can register as either a professional python hunter or a novice, and prizes will be awarded for each category respectively.
The hunter who captures the most pythons and/or the longest python will win $2,500. Second place will take home $750.
While I don’t think Governor DeSantis plans on returning to hunt pythons during the event, he did get his hands dirty at this years kick off event by helping hold a python during a photo op.
In Florida we take conservation seriously and like to have fun doing it. Had a great time at the Python Bowl in South Florida helping protect the Everglades against the threat posed by Burmese Pythons. pic.twitter.com/BSww4OWEMc
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, pythons can be hunted on private lands at any time with landowner permission with no permit required. The commission actually encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.
Pythons may also be killed at any time throughout the year from 25 Public Wildlife Management Areas where they are known to exist. There is no bag limit and pythons may be humanely killed by any means other than traps or firearms unless provided for by specific area regulations.
Of course, no Florida man is more well equipped for the job or removing invasive giant snakes than the Python Cowboy. He holds the state record for largest python ever captured.
The snake roughed him up a good bit and delivered a bite that needed medical attention, but the entire hunt was captured on camera.