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Gov. DeSantis Announces Registration for 2021 Florida Python Challenge

 FWC Python Coordinator McKayla Spencer demonstrates a python capture as others watch
Kristin Moorehead
FWC Python Coordinator McKayla Spencer demonstrates a python capture.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was in South Florida today to announce the 2021 Florida Python Challenge. Rain sprinkled on attendees of the press conference as the governor said Burmese pythons pose a threat to Everglades restoration efforts.

“We spend all this money and we want to do all this stuff to restore but yet, if they’re just running roughshod over all the other species, you know that’s not what we want," he said.

At the press conference, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials demonstrated a python capture. McKayla Spencer, a python coordinator for the FWC, was holding a 30-pound female python and described it as a mid-sized snake. Burmese pythons can get up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds.

Spencer released her hold on the python and nudged it around. Then, she used a long hook to pin the python’s head and recapture it.

"Everyone always worries about the head and that is definitely the first thing that you want to get under control. But secondarily these animals are also constrictors. You do not want this animal to get around your arm because then you lose mobility," Spencer said.

During the challenge, hunters compete to see who can capture the biggest or the most pythons. Cash prizes for the winners can be up to $2,500.

Joe Wasilewski has been a conservation biologist since the ‘70s. He says the challenge shines a light on the problem presented by python populations in Florida.

“You’re not catching a whole hell of a lot of snakes but you’re you’re making the whole world aware," he said.

The challenge runs from July 9 to July 18. Registration can be found here.

Kristin Moorehead is a 2021 WLRN summer intern and recent graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Telecommunication.
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