How would you have liked to hunt constricting snakes that can grow to 20 feet in length and have the capability to take down large deer and even alligators? Well, more than 1,000 people participated in Florida’s 2016 Python Challenge, and with a whopping 106 snakes captured, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission deemed the hunt a success.
The semi-annual Florida Python Challenge, which ran January 16 through February 14, resulted in the capture of 38 more snakes than during the previous hunt in 2013, according to a press release put out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The hunters enjoyed moderate temperatures in the 70s, according to Weather.com, as well as a larger geographic area than what was open during the 2013 hunt.
“We are pleased with the success of this year’s Python Challenge,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) commissioner Ron Bergeron said in the press release. “Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife, and the increased public awareness will help us keep people involved as we continue managing invasive species in Florida.”
Hunters were able to compete in up to four categories: Team Category for most pythons and longest python, and individual category for most pythons and longest python.
The winner of the Team Category – Most Pythons went to Bill Booth, Duane Clark, Dusty Crum and Craig Nicks (aka the Cypress Boys). They won a $5,000 cash prize for capturing 33 pythons.
The winner of the Individual Category – Most Pythons went to Daniel Moniz, who captured 13 pythons. He won $3,500.
The winner of the Team Category – Longest Python went to Bill Booth, Duane Clark, Dusty Crum and Craig Nicks. They won a $3,000 cash prize. They captured a 15-foot python.
The winner of the Individual Category – Longest Python went to Daniel Moniz for capturing a 13-foot 8 inch python.
The captured snakes are sent to All American Gator Products in Hollywood, Florida, where their skins are turned into wallets and other goods.
The Burmese python is an invasive species in Florida and has been established in the Everglades National Park System for more than 20 years. A breeding facility was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew, and the breeding stock escaped and found haven in the Everglades. To combat these apex predators in their non-native habitat, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has conducted two python hunts over the last several years, not to eradicate the species in the Everglades as that would be virtually impossible, but to educate the public on invasive species in the state.