According to the Conservation Commission, Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and negatively impact native species. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida where they prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles. A female Burmese python can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. Since 2000, more than 13,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from the state of Florida.
This year, a total of 223 total pythons were removed from the Everglades during the event. That was more than double the number of pythons captured in 2020, meaning the event was a resounding success.
The event also saw a record number of participants vying for the years cash prizes. More than 600 people from 25 states participated this year.
The $10,000 prize for the most pythons removed went to the Charlie Dachton, a 61-year-old Florida man who removed 41 snakes from the landscape. By comparison, last years champ removed just 8 snakes.
“They offered that big check this year. That got my attention.”
Cash prizes were also awarded to both the novice and professional who removed the longest snake.
Brandon Call won the $1,500 in the novice category thanks to his 15-foot 9-inch python. Call is deaf, but said that helped him catch the snake because without his hearing his other senses are quite acute, which allowed him to pick up on things other snake hunters may miss.
Dusty Crum won the same amount of money for his 15-foot 5-inch snake in the professional category.
The huge increase in the number of snakes caught this year is likely due in part changes the state made as to when the event takes place, said a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“We changed the time of year of the Python Challenge. We used to do this in the winter which is also a really good time to remove pythons as they sun themselves… but in the summer participants were able to get out and actually get nests and get pythons before they hatch and spread out and disperse and breed and eventually create even more pythons.”
According to the 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.