New winner named for Florida's Python Challenge

In this 2013 file photo, Bill Booth of Bradenton, Fla. stretches out a dead Burmese python he caught, for students from the University of Florida to measure, in the Florida Everglades as part of the month long 'Python Challenge.' (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

In this 2013 file photo, Bill Booth of Bradenton, Fla. stretches out a dead Burmese python he caught, for students from the University of Florida to measure, in the Florida Everglades as part of the month long "Python Challenge." (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MIAMI — There's a new winning snake in the state's "Python Challenge."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Sunday that Blake Russ of Fruitland Park should have won $1,500 for bagging the longest Burmese python. Russ competed with hunters holding special permits for harvesting pythons.

Ruben Ramirez of Miami was given the prize Saturday for a snake more than 10 feet long. Wildlife officials say Ramirez will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,500 of his own for a snake more than 11 feet long.

University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the mix-up was his mistake. Unlike other snakes killed in the hunt, Russ' snake was released with a tracking device.

Among competitors without the python permits, Paul Shannon of Lehigh Acres won $1,500 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.

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