Florida -Governor Ron DeSantis has officially inaugurated the enrollment process for the eagerly awaited 2023 Florida Python Challenge®.
This year’s edition provides competitors with the prospect of winning a prize pool exceeding $30,000 while simultaneously contributing to the elimination of the non-native Burmese pythons from Florida’s wilderness.
As of today, potential competitors can undertake the prerequisite online training to become eligible for the 10-day event, set to occur from August 4th to August 13th, 2023. The challenge extends an open invitation to both seasoned professionals and beginners alike.
“Since my inauguration, we have consistently dedicated significant resources towards Everglades restoration, with record-level funding allocated to conservation projects and initiatives targeted at the eradication of invasive Burmese pythons that jeopardize this prized ecosystem,” stated Governor Ron DeSantis.
“My term in office has overseen the removal of over half of the 18,000 pythons extricated from the Everglades since 2000. The Python Challenge offers people a unique opportunity to directly engage in Everglades restoration, and I eagerly anticipate the outcome of this year’s event.”
The Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Rodney Barreto, voiced his excitement about the competition, remarking, “Since the launch of the inaugural Florida Python Challenge® in 2013, we have managed to spread awareness globally about the adverse impacts caused by Burmese pythons and other invasive species in Florida.
With Governor Ron DeSantis and our partners at the South Florida Water Management District, we once again have the pleasure of organizing this event to engage the public in protecting our native wildlife and compete for hefty prizes by contributing to the removal of Burmese pythons from our unique Florida Everglades ecosystem.”
“Alligator Ron” Bergeron, a member of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board, underscored the importance of preserving and rehabilitating the Everglades, stating, “America’s Everglades are a global singular entity that require consistent preservation and restoration.
The elimination of invasive pythons from the Greater Everglades Ecosystem is paramount, and we need to explore all possibilities to tackle this invasive threat. I am thrilled to see the outcome of the 2023 Florida Python Challenge®.”
The preceding year’s Florida Python Challenge® yielded impressive results, with 231 invasive Burmese pythons eradicated from the Everglades. This represented a rise compared to the earlier year and more than twice the figure in 2020. The competition attracted almost 1,000 contestants from 32 states, Canada, and Latvia.
Besides the main 10-day event, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers continuous python removal possibilities on 25 Commission-managed lands throughout the year. Moreover, people are allowed to humanely dispatch pythons on private properties with landowner consent, sans the need for permits or hunting licenses.
Burmese pythons, alien to Florida, are a major menace to the local wildlife. They are primarily found in and around the Everglades ecosystem, where they feed on birds, mammals, and other reptiles.
Female Burmese pythons have the capacity to lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs in one go. Since 2000, the FWC has reported and removed more than 18,000 Burmese pythons from the environment.
Those seeking additional information about Burmese pythons and ongoing conservation initiatives can visit MyFWC.com/Python.