The 2013 Python Challenge gets under way Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, in South Florida as more than 700 hunters will get a chance to cull the invasive species from the Everglades.
(Photo: Andrew West,The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press)
MIAMI -- A 14-foot-3-inch long Burmese python was a winner Saturday, it took first place for the largest specimen in the Python Challenge.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission presented trophies Saturday to the top competitor in the Python Challenge award ceremony, at Zoo Miami.
Almost 1,600 competitors trudged through more than a million acres of Everglades to kill 68 Burmese pythons during the month-long hunting contest.
The Python Challenge raised public awareness about this invasive species, according to a media release for the FWC. The events also provided researchers a precious opportunity to gather important data about python populations and their impact on the Everglades ecosystem.
"The enthusiastic support from the public, elected officials, conservation organizations, government agencies and researchers gives hope that we can make progress on this difficult conservation challenge by working together," said Nick Wiley, FWC executive director.
The state of Florida currently prohibits the possession and sale of Burmese pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of this species.
- The $1,500 Grand Prize for harvesting the most pythons went to Brian Barrows, who harvested 6 pythons in the General Competition, and Ruben Ramirez, who harvested 18 pythons in the Python Permit Holders Competition.
- The Second Place Prize of $750 in the most-harvested category went to Bill Booth, who harvested 5 pythons in the General Competition, and Blake Russ, who harvested 5 pythons in the Python Permit Holders Competition.
- The $1,000 First Place Prize for harvesting the longest Burmese python went to Paul Shannon, who harvested a 14-foot, 3-inch-long python in the General Competition, and Ruben Ramirez, who harvested a 10-foot, 6.8-inch-long python in the Python Permit Holders Competition.
- The Second Place Prize of $750 in the longest snake category went to Rigoberto Figueroa, for a 14-foot, 2.3-inch-long python in the General Competition, and Ruben Ramirez, who harvested a 10-foot, 3.6-inch-long python in the Python Permit Holders Competition.
First Coast News