Aug 9, 2022
Right now, more than 850 hunters clad in swamp gear and wielding machetes, air and bolt guns, hooks, and other “non-motorized” tools are swarming the Florida Everglades. They're in search of pythons.
It’s the Florida Python Challenge. The Challenge is a yearly hunt-for-cash competition. The goal is to help rid the wetlands of an invasive species. The snakes have nearly wiped out all mammals from the habitat. The snakes were introduced in the 1980s. Some escaped into the Everglades. Others were released by their owners.
The Burmese python has no natural predator in the Everglades. The snakes run up to 16 feet long, weigh as much as 200 pounds, and lay as many as 100 eggs each year. About 100,000 of them live in the Everglades, according to scientists. Removing them is a big effort, but competitors say they’re up for the challenge.
“It’s guns blazing,” defending champion Dusty Crum told Newsweek. “I’m trying to utilize all my equipment: little geo-trackers, four-wheelers. I’ve got swamp buggies, monster trucks with big tires on them. We outfit those with lights on and I’ll be able to access places the general public can’t get to.”
First prize is $2,500 for both professional and registered novices who capture the most pythons. The person who kills the longest snake wins $1,500. Active-duty military personnel and veterans can win an additional $2,000 and $1,000 respectively in both categories. Competitors do not need a hunting license. No guns are allowed, though. Participants must also take an online training course.
The challenge ends Sunday.
Like pythons? Check out this previous story from The Juice:
June 29, 2022: Biologists Capture 215-Pound Burmese Python in Everglades
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