The intent of the 2016 Python Challenge™ is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife. Through the 2016 Python Challenge™, the FWC and its partners will share knowledge about Burmese pythons in Florida, encourage the continued removal of these snakes by the public, and highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership so nonnative species such as Burmese pythons are not released into the wild.
The 2016 Python Challenge™ includes two free public events in south Florida, a month-long Burmese python removal competition, and two free social media contests. There will also be more educational and training opportunities with the 2016 Python Challenge™.
The 2016 Python Challenge™ Invasive Species Awareness Festival will be held on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Florida International University’s Nature Preserve at the University Modesto Maidique Campus, Miami.The welcome and opening remarks will start at 10:30 on the main stage.. The festival will feature talks about the competition, snake identification and demonstrations showing safe capture of Burmese pythons. This will be your chance to view Burmese pythons up close and interact with scientists and exhibitors to learn more about the big snake’s biology and behavior. Information will be presented on research and management programs directed at lessening the impact of Burmese pythons on the Everglades. Expect lots of educational activities and exhibits, mixed in with food and fun.
The 2016 Python Challenge™ Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie.
There will be a ceremony to announce the winners of the 2016 Python Challenge™. Awards will be given to the individuals and teams who removed the longest Burmese python and the most Burmese pythons. The grand prize winner of the photo contest contest will also be announced.
The Burmese python is a large, nonvenomous constrictor that is an invasive species in Florida. Burmese pythons are found primarily in the Everglades, where the snake represents a threat to the ecosystem, including native wildlife. Burmese pythons prey on native Florida species of mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as other nonnative species.
The first Python Challenge™ took place in 2013. This is the first Python Challenge™ since that time. However, in addition to conducting Python Challenge™ events, the FWC works to control Burmese pythons in a variety of ways. For example, the FWC has Python Removal Permit Holders who collect and remove Burmese pythons and also collect data for research purposes. During open hunting seasons, licensed hunters can remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land, Rotenberger, Big Cypress and Picayune Strand Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs); Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA); and Rocky Glades Small Game Area (SGA). There is also a Conditional Reptiles Season in most of these areas when Burmese pythons can also be removed.
Yes. The registration fee for an individual is $25.00 and $75.00 for a team paid to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. People can register at any time during the competition. See the official 2016 Python Challenge™ rules for more information.
Yes. All participants must take an easily accessible online training and must pass the training quiz with at least an 80%. Participants can also elect to take the optional in-person training, which includes a hands-on safe capture component using live, wild-caught pythons.
Registered participants do not need a Florida license hunting or a WMA permit unless they are participating in the Big Cypress WMA. A hunting license is required to participate in Big Cypress WMA and all pythons must be removed dead from that area. Participation in Big Cypress WMA only runs through February 1.
Yes. All participants must register to take part in the python removal competition. Participants will receive a form that confirms their registration and serves as their registration for removing Burmese pythons. Participants must have a printout of this permit in their possession when removing snakes for the competition.
Yes. To compete in the Python Challenge™ python removal competition, people who are not Florida residents are required to complete the same required online training and registration as Florida residents. The permit they receive upon registration will allow them to remove Burmese pythons from the participating areas during the Jan. 16 to Feb. 14 competition.
Yes. Youth under age 18 must have their parent or legal guardian complete their registration and sign their permit. They must also be accompanied by a registered adult while participating in the competition, whether both are registered as individuals or as part of a team.
On Saturday, January 16, the 2016 Python Challenge™ Invasive Species Awareness Festival at Florida International University’s Nature Preserve at the University Modesto Maidique Campus in Miami will have opportunities for learning about Burmese pythons and other nonnative species in Florida. Using a live python, experts will demonstrate how to safely capture and remove Burmese pythons. You can talk to FWC and UF staff about these large constrictors and the public lands where you are allowed to competitively remove Burmese pythons for the 2016 Python Challenge™.
The Toolkit has the key resources you will need, including the data sheet for logging a captured snake, a map of drop-off locations, official competition rules, a link to the humane euthanasia protocol, and information on how to respect the Everglades habitat while participating in the competition. You will also need to have your registration form that serves as your permit with you at all times during participation in the competition.
Yes. While the Python Challenge™ coincides with small game season, people who do not want to participate in the Python Challenge™ may hunt Burmese pythons as a traditional hunter during any established hunting season on several state lands: Everglades/Francis Taylor WMA; Holey Land WMA; Rotenberger WMA; Big Cypress WMA; Picayune Strand State Forest; Southern Glades WEA; and Rocky Glades SGA. Those that want to hunt pythons during the timeframe of the Python Challenge™ but do not want to participate in the competition need a valid hunting license and management area permit, and must follow the rules of each hunting season (i.e., bow and arrow only during archery season, etc.).
Participants must drop off snakes by 7 p.m. on the day of capture at an official drop-off location. A data sheet also must be fully completed and submitted for each captured Burmese python in order for it to be logged to reflect the correct competitor, snake and location. See the official rules of the 2016 Python Challenge™ for more details.
In most cases, yes. Registered 2016 Python Challenge ™ participants who wish to keep the skin of a removed Burmese python should indicate this preference in the “Comments” section of the data sheet turned in with the snake at a drop-off location. After the snake is measured for official entry into the 2016 Python Challenge™, participants will be notified to pick up the Burmese python skin at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie.
While not every Burmese python skin is marketable, a few companies may be able to tan your Burmese python skin or fashion it into a leather product and return it to you for a fee or they may want to purchase the skin from you.
Some Burmese pythons removed from the Everglades that have been tested for mercury levels had amounts that may be unsafe for consumption by humans. Though it is not illegal to eat python meat, the FWC cautions that neither the Florida Department of Health nor the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have stated that python meat is safe to consume.
The prizes for removing the most and the largest Burmese pythons will be awarded during the 2016 Python Challenge™ Awards Ceremony which will be held on Saturday, February 27 at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie. Winners will be recognized in both the Team and Individual categories. The event begins at 10 a.m..
Results from a survey of participants in the 2013 Python Challenge™ indicated that rewards were not the main motivating reason for the public to participate in removing Burmese pythons or other exotics. Primary motivating factors for the public’s engagement in removing pythons included to protect native wildlife and ecosystems, to removing invasive species and to spend time outdoors. We also determined that the participants with the most experience in removing pythons were the most successful during the Python Challenge™so we have focused our efforts on better educating and training the public on how, when, and where to remove pythons.
If a guide is involved in the removal or transport of a python, he or she legally should be on the permit (as a team member). If the guide is just providing guide services and is not engaged in the activity of capturing, removing and transporting pythons that is authorized under the Python Challenge™ permit, then that guide does not need to be on the permit.
The FWC suggests participants contact south Florida hotels to see if they are offering any discounts. Inexpensive or free camping is available in the area; participants can contact local state parks to inquire about camping. Everglades National Park offers inexpensive camping. Free camping is allowed on certain days within the wildlife management areas included in the Python Challenge™. Check the regulations brochures for more information.
Participants in the following areas can harvest other conditional reptiles if they have a hunting license and a WMA permit: Holey Land WMA, Rotenberger WMA, Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, Rocky Glades SGA, Southern Glades WEA, Picayune Strand WMA/State Forest, and Big Cypress WMA (until February 1, 2016). Conditional reptiles include Burmese python, reticulated python, Indian python, Northern African/rock python, Southern African python, Amethystine python, scrub python, green anaconda, and Nile monitor.
For any other situation, please take a photograph of the animal, get a good location (GPS is preferred) and call the IveGot1 hotline at 1-888-IVE-GOT1 (1-888-483-4681) during business hours and the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) after hours.