EVERGLADES CITY, Fla — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and partners are celebrating what they're calling a successful ending to the 2021 Florida Python Challenge.
It's a 10-day competition that focuses on the removal of Burmese pythons, which are invasive to Florida's ecosystem. This year, more than 600 people participated and help lead to the removal of 223 snakes, the FWC said in a news release.
DeSantis showed his gratitude for the partners and participants, stating that the challenge is an example of Florida's progress in combating invasive species.
"Removing more than 200 Burmese pythons is a victory for our state as well as for the native animals that live here," DeSantis said in a statement.
FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto shared that more than 100 freshly hatched pythons were removed from the wild, which helps prevent the further spread of the invasive reptiles.
Many prizes were given out to the participants who showed spectacular performances capturing the snakes in the 10-day period.
The top prize for $10,000 was awarded to Charles Dachton for catching 41 pythons. Impressively enough, Dachton is a novice. Other prize amounts ranged from $2,500 to $750, and additional prizes were given to participants who are members or veterans of the U.S. military.
The Burmese python is usually found in and around the Everglades ecosystem in South Florida. They prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles which hurts the regional environment.
According to FWC, more than 13,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from the state of Florida since 2000.
FWC, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, Virtual Business Services, DeSantis and other partners helped to direct and sponsor the event.