Florida governor Ron DeSantis has jumpstarted registration for the 2021 Python Challenge in the Everglades - and it’s every bit as wild as it sounds.
In a news conference on Thursday morning, DeSantis said he wanted to restore the Everglades by removing Burmese Pythons from the area, as they cause damage to the ecosystem.
“I’ve charged the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with dedicating more resources and taking innovative approaches to removing invasive Burmese pythons, which can grow to 20 feet in length, weigh up to 200 pounds and cause major damage to the ecosystem,” DeSantis said in the conference.
Part of that includes a challenge to see who can catch and remove the longest python from the wild. Those who are interested in being a part of this can register at the Florida Python Challenge website.
It’s also mandatory that participants take the online training module, which is free, and pass the quiz with a score of at least 80 per cent before registering.
That still feels like the state is asking for trouble, but we’ll see how it goes.
DeSantis said that the python challenge was an event held every three years, but he decided to make it an annual thing due to a “35 per cent increase” in the number of pythons between 2019 and 2020.
Jenny Ketterlin Eckles (L) a non-native Wildlife Biologist, and Edward Mercer, non-native Wildlife Technician, both with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hold a Burmese Python during a press conference in the Florida Everglades about the non-native species on January 29, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images
“We’ve also expanded access for python removers in the state parks, as well as worked with the U.S. Department of Interior to increase access to federal lands for python removal — particularly within the Big Cypress National Preserve,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said that the commission recently came up with a way to remove the giant snakes by working with the University of Central Florida to create “infrared vehicle cameras.”