(TALLAHASSEE, FL)– More than 1000 people trekked through the Everglades this summer in search of Burmese Pythons and a chance to take home $10,000 for removing the most of the invasive snakes.
Matthew Concepcion was this year’s big winner, receiving $10,000 for bagging 28 of the snakes during the annual hunt that took place August 5-14.
In total, 231 snakes were captured and removed by hunters from 32 states as well as Canada and as far away as Latvia.
“Once again, the Florida Python Challenge has yielded impressive results with hundreds of invasive pythons being removed from the wild,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Removing these snakes is one of the many efforts we are employing to restore and maintain the Everglades ecosystem.”
Other winners include Joaquin Vila who received $2,500 for capturing 15 pythons and second prize winner Donna Kalil who will get $750 for 6 snakes.
The longest snake was brought in by Dustin Crum whose 11 foot python earned him $1,500.
The 2021 installment of the annual contest saw 223 of the snakes removed from the Everglades and more than 17,000 have been eradicated since 2000.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Burmese Pythons inhabit the Everglades, the offspring of former pets who were released into the wild by neglectful owners.
The snakes pose a major threat to the ecosystem.
They prey on native species, have no natural predators, and females can lay as many as 50-100 eggs at a time.
Though the contest does little to reduce their numbers, organizers say on the event’s website “The intent of the Florida Python Challenge is to raise public awareness about Burmese pythons in Florida and how this invasive species is a threat to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife.”
The prize money was provided by Bergeron Everglades Foundation and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.