MIAMI (AP) — Professional python hunters and amateurs alike have a chance to win prizes in Florida’s annual hunt for the biggest snakes — the Burmese pythons that are ravaging the state’s native species.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state’s annual contest on Thursday: It will run from July 9 to 18 and include prizes for both pros and novices.
In both categories, there will be a $2,500 prize for catching the most pythons and $1,500 for the longest.
The pythons, which can grow to 20 feet (6.10 meters) and 200 pounds (90 kilograms), are descended from pets released starting five decades ago.
The big serpents are overrunning the Everglades and have been devouring native mammal and bird populations.
Each adult female lays between 60 and 100 eggs per year.
Once the snakes reach adulthood in about five years they have no Florida predators besides armed humans and the occasional sawgrass death match with an adult alligator.
Removing Pythons in Florida
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission – no permit required- and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.
Pythons may also be killed at any time throughout the year from 25 Wildlife Management Areas, Public Small Game Hunting Areas and Wildlife and Environmental Areas where pythons are known to exist.
There is no bag limit and pythons may be humanely killed by any means other than traps or firearms (unless provided for by specific area regulations).
The FWC uses multiple programs for Burmese python removal and management efforts.
Some programs allow and encourage public participation; learn more about removing pythons in Florida