Fish and Wildlife Commission sets Burmese python hunt for 10 days in August; what we know
Dust off your rusty machetes and polish the edge of your best hunting knife: The annual public python hunt is coming later this summer.
“Since the first Florida Python Challenge in 2013, we have reached a countless number of people across the globe, alerting them to the negative impacts caused by Burmese pythons and other invasive species in Florida,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chair Rodney Barreto in a press released sent out Wednesday.
This year's hunt will take place from Aug. 4 through Aug. 13, and there are categories for professional and amateur hunters.
FWC says the 2022 hunt removed 231 pythons from the Everglades, with nearly 1,000 people from 32 states and even Latvia taking part in the 10-day hunt.
Over the past 20 years, the Burmese python has established itself as perhaps the most damaging of all invasive animals found in Florida.
In hopes of trimming the population while raising public awareness, the state of Florida holds an annual hunt.
Florida has more invasive species than most countries, and the Burmese python may be the most destructive foreign animal in the entire historic Everglades, which stretches from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay.
All kills must be done humanely
Even though Burmese pythons don't belong in Florida, you still must treat them humanely. Many hunters use a 4-inch hunting knife to slice off the head in a way that kills the snake immediately.
They hold the python just behind the skull with one hand and slice through the snake with the other.
It can be a bloody mess, and the snakes will try to bite you and may spray you with liquid feces.
It's legal to hunt year-round
Although the state holds an annual hunt, it is legal to hunt pythons ever day of the year on public lands and on more than two dozen properties managed by FWC.
Summer can be a productive time for hunting as the next generation hatched recently, so there will be plenty of small snakes on the landscape.
Many of the largest snakes are caught during winter months, when snakes will slither onto concrete surfaces, like roads, to warm themselves.
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FWC says more than 18,000 snakes have been removed by hunters over the past two decades.
These snakes get big
Burmese pythons can grow to more than 18 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. If that sounds like a sizeable animal, that's because it is.
Pythons are at the very tip of the food chain here, and they're generalist predators that will eat nearly anything. So while you may fear alligators, crocodiles, bears or panthers, pythons are the biggest beasts in the woods here.
You can make money
This year the state is giving out a total of $30,000 in cash and prizes.
Professional hunters registered with the state are paid year-round for snakes they capture and kill.
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