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Python hunter Donna Kalil has caught nearly 270 of the invasive snakes, which have decimated small mammal populations in the Everglades. Naples Daily News

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Python Bowl 2020 kicked off over the weekend as efforts to eradicate the invasive Burmese pythons heat up.

The Florida Python Challenge is a 10-day event that began Friday where veteran hunters and novice snake surveyors head into the field to capture as many pythons as possible.

As of Monday morning, 662 people have registered to participate and 18 snakes have been turned in to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's check stations. 

More: What is Python Bowl 2020? 

"The intent of the Florida Python Challenge 2020 Python Bowl is to bring continued awareness to invasive species issues in south Florida and engage the public in participating in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal," FWC spokesperson Carli Segelson wrote in an email.

The FWC hopes the event will help "generate data from concentrated removal of Burmese pythons, such as their size and locations."

The event organizers also want to raise awareness on not just Burmese pythons, but other invasive species. Segelson wrote that one goal is to continue educating the public and help people learn how they can help.

Read: As state's python bowl nears, Bonita Springs residents prepare for the challenge

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Citrus Park residents in Bonita Springs get hands python catching training Fort Myers News-Press

The Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida has supported these python challenges every time they’re organized, Michelle Ashton, a spokesperson for the organization said.

“Thanks to our money and the money raised from corporate and private donors, we’ve been able to support a good number of prizes,” she said. “We’re also providing logistical support for registration and the exhibit at the Superbowl.”

The foundation has made invasive pythons one of its main initiatives, Ashton said.

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“We are really hopeful this not only raises awareness about how much of a problem pythons are — it’s doing a great job in educating the public. We’re helping to support projects to track pythons, but at the end of the day people going out and removing them is most effective.”

Karl Schneider is an environment reporter. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @karlstartswithk, email him at kschneider@gannett.com

ICYMI: 'This is my calling.' Everglades python hunter brings her passion to bear in fight against invasive species

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