Population numbers of Burmese pythons in Florida were once reported to be as high as 100,000. The problem with the snakes is that there are no known predators to the large reptiles. Burmese pythons can grow as large as 150+ pounds, and over 25 feet in length. They have been known to strangle and eat anything in their paths including large birds, deer and even alligators. In order to combat the non-native inhabitants, Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has opened up a hunting season for the snakes. Beginning in January, Floridians will be able to hunt the exotic reptile tourists in specific areas of Florida.
According to myFWC.com,
“The dates of the python removal competition in south Florida are set for Jan. 16- Feb. 14, 2016. Participants will be able to sign up as an individual competitor or as part of a team of up to five people.”
This sounds like a real life Jurassic Park adventure if you ask me. Trekking through the swamps of the Everglades hunting 20+ foot snakes? Sorry team, I think I’m busy that entire month. Count me out.
This is not the first year Floridians have been allowed to hunt the dinosaur snakes. Floridians have even created a whole festival out of the Burmese python hunting season called the Python Challenge™. The events include hunting tournaments with prizes, informative family events and luncheons. Nothing says “Florida” quite like celebrating hunting snakes with your kids for the weekend.
A statement from pythonchallenge.org explains,
“In the early winter of 2013, nearly 1,600 participants in the first Python Challenge™ trekked through more than a million acres of swamps and sawgrass in search of the well-camouflaged Burmese python. Dedicated competitors removed 68 snakes from the Everglades ecosystem — the most ever removed for a similar time period. As important as the removal of these snakes was, the Python Challenge™ also brought international awareness to the challenges Florida is facing with Burmese pythons and other invasive species. The Python Challenge™ also proved to be an unprecedented opportunity to gather data about these snakes and their impacts on the ecosystem.”
68 snakes out of the estimated 100,000+ were captured. Let that sink in for a minute- over 99,932 Burmese pythons are still on the loose in Florida. I think I’ll stay indoors this weekend.
Although sport hunting is a controversial subject, the removal of these invasive reptiles is for the greater good of the Sunshine State. With dwindling numbers of endangered species in Florida, Burmese pythons pose a serious threat to the environment and the state’s native species.
If you are brave enough to sign up for the python hunt, check out PythonChallenge.org for more information. Get out there and live your fantasy of becoming the Greek god, Heracles, and wrestle some snakes.