EVERGLADES (CBSMiami) — This weekend, wildlife officials are bringing back the Python Challenge — a nearly one-month event allowing for the removal of Burmese pythons, a non-native species, from the Florida Everglades.
The 2016 Python Removal Competition kicks off Saturday January 16th and will run through February 14th, with more than $16,000 in prize money awarded to both the individual and team who capture the most pythons, and the largest.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has teamed up with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to hold the event. The Burmese python is said to be responsible for interrupting the state’s ecosystem as a non-native predator, threatening the native wildlife that live there, including birds, small mammals and other reptiles.
In the early winter of 2013, about 1,600 participants in the first Python Challenge trekked through more than a million acres of swamps and sawgrass in search of the well-camouflaged Burmese python. 68 eligible snakes were captured in total.
This year’s Python Challenge will cover more territory and aims to engage the public in Everglades conservation through invasive species awareness and removal.