The python invasion of South Florida and the Everglades especially has become such a problem that authorities hold contests to aid in their efforts in reducing the population. Pythons are not native to Florida and as a result they have simply devastated the natural habitat in the Everglades. This happens because they have no natural predators to keep their numbers in check. They eat indigenous wildlife and the fear is they will do so to the point of extinction for multiple species. There is already one bird on the brink of extinction, the grasshopper sparrow.
The Florida Python Challenge started nine years ago and attracts more and more hunters every year. It has even attracted our governor Ron DeSantis to observe and speak at the event.
This reptile first showed up as far back as 1979. It is thought that pet owners released their pythons into the Glades. This happened many time over the years and now the python is a real pest problem.
850 participants showed up this year, marking the highest number ever. It is currently under way and ends on the 15th of this month. Prize money is donated and raised throughout the year. An example is a generous $10,000 donation from South Florida Water Management District Board Member “Alligator” Ron Bergeron.
There is a $25 registration fee. The hunter that brings back the most pythons gets $2500. The invasive python can grow to be 17-20 feet or so in length, a real monster. Other prizes help round out the contest and keep the participants motivated. Since 2000 there have been over 1700 pythons captured in the Everglades.
DeSanits spoke on the matter saying “I am proud of the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Python Challenge.” His wife Casey even announced that for their 10th year anniversary she got him a pair of Python boots!