Bugle Miami

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis on hand to kick off 2022 Florida Python Challenge

MIAMI – Are you up for the challenge of nabbing some of the biggest snakes in the Everglades?  If you are it could come with a handsome reward.  

In order to participate hunters have to register but other than that it just takes a little bit of skill.

“Just get close to him say his head is down here and at night they usually don’t move too much and you just get down there and grab him by the neck,” Myron Looker said.

Looker has several years of experience under his snakeskin belt.  Last year he came in with one of the longest catches in the 2021 Python Challenge, “2nd place in the pro category for the longest and that was a 12 and a half footer.”

This year he’s joining hundreds of others also trying to place.  “It never gets old the adrenaline gets rushed and gets going you definitely get pumped, even watching some other people catch them it’s a lot of fun,” he told CBS 4.

Florida Fish and Wildlife estimate there are between 100,000 to 300,000 Burmese pythons in the Everglades and they need help getting rid of them.  

Pythons are an invasive species, gulping down native wildlife and hurting the habitat.  

Cash prizes are offered to hunters in two categories – longest python captured and most pythons removed. 

Participants can register as novices or professionals. Separate prizes will be awarded for each category. Special recognition and prizes will be given to veterans and active members of our armed services.  

Competitors can work in teams, but all participants must register individually.  

Those registering must take a required online training course and pass a quiz at the end. The cost to participate in the hunt is $25.

“By making not our agency’s problem to solve, making it all of our problems to solve,” Eric Sutton, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director said.

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis joined wildlife officials in announcing rewards for most caught and longest python in this year’s contest.

“All of us on this hunt,  [to get something] that can get 200 pounds 20 feet long,” Alligator Ron Bergeron said.  Bergeron a Gladesman and member of the South Florida Water Management District is sweetening up the pot with $10,000 towards the prizes.

Part of the reason why pythons have become such a massive problem is that people dumped pet snakes into the Everglades.  

Officials are reminding the public not to do this, as it can cause irreparable harm to the ecosystem. 

Burmese pythons can grow up to 30 feet in length, the average size removed in Florida is eight to 10 feet. A female can lay 50 to 100 eggs per year. In Florida, they can no longer be acquired as personal pets. 

“We got lights up top, some people put them on their vehicle,” Looker explained. He says it doesn’t require a lot of equipment to hunt for snakes, sometimes it is just luck.  

“This was made by a friend of mine, Matt Cogo, a fellow contractor,” Looker pointed to his snakeskin belt.  So, even if he doesn’t place this year, he may just walk away with a little snakeskin.

The contest runs through 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 14th. 

Competitors can only remove Burmese pythons from participating areas. 

Only Burmese pythons removed from these areas will be considered valid entries in the competition. More than 16,000 snakes have been removed since 2000.