MIAMI – Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday kicked off registration for the 2021 Python Challenge in the Everglades.
DeSantis held a news conference west of Miami at 10 a.m. to announce the 2021 initiative.
“As part of my focus on restoring the Everglades I’ve charged FWC with dedicating more resources and taking innovative approaches to removing invasive Burmese pythons, which can grow to 20 feet in length, weigh up to 200 pounds and cause major damage to the ecosystem,” DeSantis said.
The governor said the python challenge was previously held every three years, but he has moved to make it an annual occurrence.
“We’ve also expanded access for Python removers in the state parks, as well as worked with the U.S. Department of Interior to increase access to federal lands for Python removal — particularly within the Big Cypress National Preserve,” DeSantis said. “And as a result of our efforts FWC had a record year for Python removal in 2020. It was about a 35% increase in the number of pythons, year over year between 2019 and 2020.”
About 5,500 snakes have been removed from the Everglades during DeSantis’ tenure, according to the governor.
According to the Florida Python Challenge website, the 2021 effort starts at 8 a.m. on July 9 and ends at 5 p.m. on July 18.
The event is a 10-day competition, challenging participants to remove as many invasive Burmese pythons from Florida’s public lands as possible.