MIAMI — Catch big snakes, win big prizes.
The 2021 Florida Python Challenge is almost here, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his way down to the Everglades Thursday morning to help get things started.
The goal of the challenge is to raise awareness about the invasive snake species and the threats they can pose to the state's ecology, according to the competition's website. Plus, the competition helps bring out more people to help remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades.
It kicks off at 8 a.m. July 9 and ends at 5 p.m. on July 18. Registration is now open and costs $25.
The prize for the most pythons caught is $2,500. And that's not the only way to make money out there. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the runner-ups for most pythons caught and for the longest and second-longest snakes caught.
During the Python Bowl last year, 80 snakes were removed from the Everglades, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
DeSantis said 2020 was one of the biggest years for removing pythons from the Everglades. He said the number of snakes removed was up 35 percent from 2019.
It is illegal for anyone to release nonnative species such as Burmese pythons into the wild. FWC says owners who violate this law are responsible for most of the snakes that are harmful to the Everglades.
If you spot these types of snakes, you can report them directly to FWC by calling the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-IveGot1 (888-483-4681), visiting IveGot1.org or using the free IVEGOT1 app.
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