MIAMI — Are you interested in snakes and are looking for something to do during the beginning of August? Consider this challenge from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
At a news conference Thursday morning in Miami, the governor announced the opening of registrations for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge.
It's a conservation effort aimed toward helping protect the Everglades' habitat and the animals that live there from these invasive snakes. The event, held every year, will run from Aug. 5-14.
Starting now, people wanting to participate can take the required online training and become registered. By removing Burmese pythons from the wild, people can compete to win cash prizes.
"This [challenge] is something that will benefit this ecosystem, it will benefit the entire state of Florida, and we're really excited to be able to launch this," DeSantis said.
The challenge allows the public to help engage head-on to help with the problem of the invasive species in the Sunshine State, according to the governor.
And participants aren't removing the pythons for nothing — there are rewards: The person who removes the most pythons will receive a prize of $2,500, while the individual who removes the longest python will get $1,500.
Anyone interested in signing up to take part in the 2022 Florida Python Challenge can visit flpythonchallenge.org.
“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,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“Because of this focus, we have removed record numbers of invasive pythons from the Everglades. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Python Challenge.”
The FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.
“The Florida Everglades is an iconic habitat in Florida and removing Burmese pythons from this ecosystem is critical to the survival of the species that live in this vast wild area,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, the FWC and our dedicated partners continue to have great success conserving our native wildlife and managing this invasive predator.”
Florida has been working hard on removing pythons for years. The governor recently signed the Freedom First budget, which has an investment of up to $3 million for python removal efforts — including research and development of technology to detect the snakes.
Burmese pythons aren't native to Florida and are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem. The snakes usually eat birds, mammals and other reptiles.
For more information on Burmese pythons, visit MyFWC.com/Python.
Watch the full news conference below.