Month long hunt removes 50 invasive Python molurus bivittatus from Florida Everglades.
Update: As of February 18, Python Challenge officials updated the total number of pythons captured at 68.
Hunting during the 2013 Florida Python Challenge has come to a close with 50 Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) captured. The event, which was held in an effort to educate the public about the invasive snakes in the Everglades, attracted more than 1,000 hunters during the month long challenge. Only a select few were able to capture the elusive predators. The captured pythons are at the University of Florida where they are being processed and logged by University of Florida biologists.
"The data we'll get will be unbelievable," state Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino told the Miami Herald. "We'll have a better handle on the exact numbers [caught] by late Monday or Tuesday," Pino said. "But undoubtedly for us, it's a complete success. You can argue it's not a huge number, but its 50 pythons not in the ecosystem causing havoc."
The event draws to a close Feb. 16 with the 2013 Python Challenge Awareness and Awards Event at Zoo Miami. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will announce the hunter who captured the most number of pythons as well as the hunter who captured the longest snake at a 10:30 a.m. awards ceremony.
The free event will also host exhibits and activities that detail Everglades conservation programs and information about invasive species throughout the day. UPI is reporting that the largest python caught during the hunt measured 17.5 feet and weighed 164 pounds. The hunt has been panned by some in the mainstream media as a failure because more than 1,000 hunters entered the challenge and only 50 snakes were captured. While the hunt went off without a hitch for most, a pair of hunters in their 20s had to be rescued. Firefighters Feb. 7 had to airlift out the two hunters who became stranded and disoriented in the Everglades to an area hospital. They were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration and were also apparently lightheaded and weak.
The Burmese python is an invasive snake that is thriving in the Florida Everglades. They can grow to more than 20 feet in the wild and weigh more than 200 pounds. Their native range is in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Myanmar. The United States banned the importation and transportation of the Burmese python and several other species in March 2012. You can read ReptileChannel's Burmese python care sheet here.
Burmese Pythons in the Everglades