I received some exciting news from our Governor last Thursday. Well, I suppose we all did, but there are many of you that still may not have heard…. Governor DeSantis announced that the registration for the 2021 Florida Python Challenge is officially open. The python challenge is a ten day hunt, which is scheduled for July 9-18. Anybody can sign up to hunt, either as an individual or as a team, in one of two categories; Professional or Novice. Prizes will be awarded for most snakes caught and longest snakes caught.
The Florida Python Challenge is intended to bring awareness to the invasive species problem in South Florida and to bring the public into both conversation and action for Everglades conservation through invasive species removal.
The event, just as those held in previous years, will be held under the direction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District. Now, in the past the hunt has been held in January. But, this year it was pushed back to maximize the impact upon the pythons. Python nests hatch during the summer, so there’s a chance of gathering up a greater number of snakes per hunter.
Now, there may be a handful of you out there wondering, “Why?” Not to over simplify the reasons, pythons are a non-native, invasive species in Florida. They are directly to blame for disrupting our native ecosystem, causing as much as 90% reduction in the population of mammals in certain parts of our Everglades. A female python can lay between 50 to 100 eggs at one time, according to the FWC biologists and with remarkably few natural predators, the snakes are spreading out and claiming ever greater portions of our state to call home.
“These things will eat everything,” DeSantis said. “We spend all this money and we want to do all this stuff to restore, yet if they’re just running roughshod over all the other species that’s not what we want.”
I promise, I’ll be on hand to do my part. My partner Ariel and myself will begin our hunt on July 9th and continue to hunt around the clock until we reach the deadline for having all of the snakes turned in on the 18th. To register, we had to follow the links via the State’s website www.flpythonchallenge.org. First all applicants are required to take a very brief online course about identifying invasive vs native snakes and how to be safe on the hunt, then take a short test. All passing scores of 80% or higher are eligible to the register.
Many of you will recall that I’ve enjoyed great success in the ‘Glades in the past whilst hunting for pythons. Ariel and I will be falling back on those many tips and methods I learned from the pros over the last few years to push us towards the winner’s circle. Now, my friends, I surely thank you for all of your input and as always, if you have any feedback, give me a shout at [email protected]. God Bless and Good Hunting!