Python Hunting Florida 2013
In the UK we are not used to having snake trouble. The absence of exotic carnivorous reptiles like python’s, cobras and vipers remain a karmic pay-off for bad weather and terrible teeth. It seems a little strange to think of a land where they have such an abundance of snakes that in Florida they have to host a snake hunting contest each year: sort of like their very own version of the Simpsons Whacking Day.
The Python Challenge 2013 is a month-long event sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to help deal with excessive amounts of Burmese pythons threatening the ecosystem of the Everglades. The non-native invasive reptiles have been slithering around the far south of Florida since the early 80s and pose a massive threat to the native fauna. The FWC do not wish to eradicate the species though and are merely hoping to contain them.
This is where the Python Challenge comes in. Once participants pay a $25 entry fee and take a training course online they are free to take on the might of the python. Not that the challenge of taming these dangerous reptiles is going to be easy. Captured pythons in the Florida Everglades now exceed the length of minivans and weigh as much as grown men. In Florida pythons have no known predators. Except, of course, man.
So the challenge is likely to be difficult. The Florida Everglades is not only full of snakes but crocodiles, alligators and other venomous snakes. Participants are advised to be extremely careful and kill all snakes in a humane fashion.
Shawn Heflick, star of the National Geographic Wild’s television show Python Hunters told Reuters he believes most contestants won’t last long in the challenge.
“The vast majority of them will never see a python”, says Heflick. “The majority of them will probably curtail their hunting very quickly when they figure out there’s a lot of mosquitoes, it’s hot, it’s rather boring sometimes – most of the time really, and I think a lot of them will go home”
For those that do wish to get our their whacking sticks, the state wildlife agency is offering prizes of up to $1500 for the most captured pythons and $1000 for the longest snake. The event takes place Saturday January 12 2013.