Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday the start of registration for the 2021 Python Challenge — an annual contest for catching Burmese pythons in the Everglades.
The event will be held from July 9 to 18 and is expected to include prizes for both pro and amateur python hunters. The amount of $2,500 will go to the contestant who catches the most serpents, while a hunter with the longest python will receive $1,500, according to The Associated Press.
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
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 3, 2021
“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,” DeSantis said at the news conference Thursday, according to WPLG.
Only Burmese pythons — giant snakes whose invasive and rapidly growing population has been endangering Florida’s native species — can be considered as valid entries in the competition, WPLG reported. (RELATED: Officials Exterminating Invasive Python Species With ‘Detector Dogs’)
“These things will eat everything,” DeSantis said, according to WTVJ. “If they’re just running roughshod over all the other species, that’s not what we want.”
The governor said that he hopes 2021 will be as successful in terms of python removal as 2020. The last year saw a record number of Burmese pythons killed by the hunters, which speaks to the success of removal incentivization programs, like the Florida Python Challenge, according to WTVJ.
“There’s people from all over the world that want to come do the Python Challenge,” DeSantis added.