The Florida Python Challenge was a recent success as snake hunters bagged a staggering number of pythons from the Everglades. Hunters from all over the world flocked to the Everglades for a 10-day challenge, catching a total of 231 invasive Burmese pythons.
Over 1,000 participants came to Florida from 32 states, Canada, and even Latvia. The Florida Python Challenge is meant to raise awareness of the destruction that the Burmese python has caused in the Everglades. It also serves as a way to lessen the population. But, as Steve Davis, chief science officer for the Everglades Foundation, has said before, for every python you do see, there are about 100 to 1,000 that you don’t.
As for the challenge itself, the Ultimate Grand Prize went to Matthew Concepcion. He won $10,000 for bagging 28 pythons throughout the 10-day competition. The $1,500 grand prize for the longest python went to Dustin Crum. His catch was 11 feet, 0.24 inches.
There are other prizes as well, split into novice and professional, as well as military prizes. This year’s total fell short of last year’s, but not by much. In 2021, participants bagged 233 pythons. This year was just three snakes short of beating last year. But, still a noble cause.
What’s Up With the Florida Python Challenge and Why Do We Have to Protect the Everglades?
The Florida Everglades is an extremely delicate ecosystem, filled with amazing biodiversity and wonderful native species. The Burmese python was introduced to the Everglades through the pet trade in the 1990s. Additionally, people would release their snakes there when they got too big or hard to take care of. Then, the pythons bred in the Florida Everglades, and the population exploded.
Pythons destroy natural ecosystems in the Everglades by decimating native populations. They have no natural predators in the United States, so it’s up to hunters to curb the population in Florida. It may be beyond eradication at this point, but we can at least try to control it.
Pythons can lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs at a time, and there are estimates that the python population in Florida is around 100,000. That’s about three snakes per square foot of land in the state of Florida. Again, 100 to 1,000 pythons that you don’t see for every one you do. But, as Steve David says, “That range may have changed as efforts like the python challenge help to improve our understanding of where they are and how to find them.”
The Florida Python Challenge is a great way to get involved with protecting the Everglades. Pythons are essentially ruining the vulnerable National Park, and the challenge is a great way to save the land while also exercising your hunting muscles.