Hunters, enthusiasts, experts and spectators will descend upon the Everglades and embark on the Florida Python Challenge – an annual event to curb the invasive Burmese python.
The nonvenomous Burmese python poses a threat to Florida’s native wildlife and is larger than almost all native snakes, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Studies have shown pythons wiped out rabbit and fox populations in regions of Everglades National Park.
The commission says hunters may catch and humanely kill Burmese pythons at the time of capture during the 10-day competition, which begins Friday.
The challenge is a conservation effort aimed at raising public awareness ofthe threat pythons pose to the ecosystem.
Aside from bragging rights, the person who kills the most pythons or kills the longest python can win a range of substantial cash prizes (more on that below).
Here are some of the top pictures from the event over the years:.
The first-place winner for the most pythons receives a $2,500 cash prize. Second place wins $750.
The longest python grand prize is worth $1,500. Second place wins $750 too.
Pythons are tan in color with dark blotches and primarily live in and around the Everglades in south Florida, according to the commission.
Burmese pythons in Florida are generally between 6 and 10 feet long, although they can grow over 20 feet.
In June, biologists captured the state’s largest-ever python – a female with a record 122 eggs and the remains of an adult white-tailed deer in her abdomen – at 215-pounds and nearly 18 feet long, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida reported.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team.
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