FLORIDA — A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer stepped in to help a Florida python removal contractor catch and remove a large number of invasive Burmese pythons from Big Cypress National Preserve this week.
Shortly before midnight on July 11, FWC Officer Matthew Rubenstein was on patrol in Big Cypress National Preserve when he encountered South Florida Water Management District python removal contractor Alex McDuffie, the FWC said in an announcement.
McDuffie was in the process of catching and bagging a Burmese python hatchling from the area. The python appeared to be freshly hatched, so they began searching the immediate area for more hatchlings.
They found a female Burmese python on a nest containing 23 unhatched eggs and 18 additional python hatchlings. Nearby, they found a separate nest site, but no snakes were present. All the snakes and unhatched eggs will be turned over to Big Cypress National Preserve.
McDuffie reported to Rubenstein that upon returning to the same site the following evening, he removed a second breeding female, which measured 17 feet, 6 inches long.
The FWC is partnering with the South Florida Water Management District and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge. The annual 10-day event will be held from August 5-14.
Members of the public are now able to take the required online training and register to compete to win thousands of dollars in prizes while removing invasive Burmese pythons from the wild.
The competition is open to both professional and novice participants. Active-duty military personnel and veterans who register for the competition will be eligible for additional prizes.
Visit FLPythonChallenge.org to register for the competition, take the online training, register for optional in-person trainings, learn more about Burmese pythons and the unique Everglades ecosystem, and find resources for planning your trip to South Florida to participate in the Florida Python Challenge.
Participants in the 2021 Florida Python Challenge removed 223 invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades, more than double the number that was removed in 2020. Over 600 people from 25 states registered to take part in the 10-day competition in 2021.
In addition to python removal efforts on public lands, pythons may be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission — no permit or hunting license required — and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.
About Invasive Burmese Pythons
According to the FWC, Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and negatively impact native species. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida where they prey on birds, mammals, and other reptiles. A female Burmese python can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. More than 16,000 Burmese pythons have been removed since 2000. For more information on Burmese pythons, visit MyFWC.com/Python.