Florida’s 2013 Python Challenge commences this weekend with almost 800 people signed up to partake in the contest that awards $1,000 to the hunter who catches the longest snake and $1,500 to the hunter with the most pythons. The hunt starts this Saturday, January 12 and will last one month. In that time, hunters will have the chance to bag as many snakes as possible, while the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) takes the added opportunity of collecting population data on the species.
Burmese pythons are an invasive species in Florida, most likely released into the wild by former owners. The alien snake populations now threaten native flora and fauna.
The event, which does not require a hunting license for those over 18, drew participants from more than 30 different states. There will be educational seminars about hunting, identifying the species, and making a humane kill for every participant regardless of age or license.
FWC spokesperson Carli Segelson states that law enforcement officers will be available during the hunt to minimize harm between humans and native species.