Casey DeSantis Kicks Off Florida's Python Challenge - 800 Hunters Compete for Cash Prizes to Remove Invasive Snakes

Toby Hazlewood

Protecting Florida's ecosystem - one snake at a time

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Casey DeSantis at the launch of the Python ChallengeTwitter of CaseyDeSantis

On August 5, Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis attended the launch of Florida's Annual Python Challenge. The event runs through to 5pm on August 15 and offers registered hunters the chance to win cash prizes of up to $2,500 for Burmese Pythons that are caught and removed from the Everglades and surrounding areas.

Casey DeSantis shared pictures of the event via her Twitter account, and was pictured holding a large example of the type of snake that the state wants to remove from the Everglades. In her Tweet she shared that she was attending the event along with "other environmental activists" including "Alligator Ron" - presumably not her nickname for husband and Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis!

Tackling an environmental issue

The 2022 Python Challenge competition was launched in June by Governor Ron DeSantis. It's open to both professional and novice participants and during the 2021 event, 600 people from 25 states took part, catching and removing 223 Burmese pythons from the Everglades.

Burmese pythons aren't native to Florida but they breed prolifically and prey on many native species, hence the desire to reduce their numbers.

Speaking at the announcement, along with representatives from Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), Governor DeSantis had this to say:

“The Everglades is one of the world’s most prized natural resources, and we have invested record funding for Everglades restoration projects, including record funding for removal of invasive Burmese pythons which wreak havoc on the ecosystem. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Python Challenge.”

So far, over 800 hunters have registered from 32 states and from Canada too. They are competing for prizes of up to $2,500.

Large numbers have already been caught

Since the start of the Python Challenge in 2000, more than 17,000 pythons have been removed from the Everglades ecosystem. Just before this year's challenge began, a student from Rollins College in Winter Park caught what is believed to be a near all-time record biggest python - it measured more than 17-feet long and was crossing the road.

Environmentalists will be hoping that this year's Python Challenge is similarly successful and more of the invasive snakes are captured and removed from the state's ecosystem.

Do you think enough is being done to protect Florida's wildlife and natural ecosystem? Should more be done or are there bigger problems facing the state? Let me know in the comments section below.

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