There’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping things to do in Florida. It’s a state full of exciting adventures, crazy twists and turns and unorthodox experiences you just won’t find anywhere else.
From jumping into a cage surrounded by sharks to chasing storms and more – you definitely won’t get bored.
But a new experience to add to the list for visitors and locals alike is the Florida python hunt.
This new excursion puts Floridians face to face with one of the most invasive species to the local environment.
Burmese Pythons are not native to the Sunshine State, but after a hoard of domesticated snakes was released as a result of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, these snakes have become a very big – and very costly – problem.
That’s where the Florida python hunt comes in.
For years, select few have been awarded the opportunity to hunt these creatures. Now, Florida is opening up the floodgates and letting anyone join in on the action.
Here’s everything you need to know about this crazy adventure.
Everything You Need to Know about the Florida Python Hunt
1. More than 150,000 Pythons Roam Free in Florida
That’s right, the number of Burmese Pythons invading the Florida swamps and forests is in the 6-digit range.
These snakes reproduced rapidly after they got free 27 years ago. Now the state has to step in to get rid of them.
They have significantly reduced the population of native animals, costing the local environment dearly. This has led to the reduction of certain plant life in the area which takes its toll to the overall functioning of the ecosystem.
This can’t continue.
That’s why officials first opened this Florida python hunt, hoping to quickly reduce this population. But there just weren’t enough hunters.
2. Wildlife Officials Opened the Florida Python Hunt to the Public
As a result of the limited resources, wildlife officials decided to create more of a game to the hunting of these pythons. That’s why this year, they decided to open the Florida python hunt to the public.
According to FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley, "we know many Florida residents and visitors want to help tackle this tough conservation challenge by going after pythons in the wild and removing any they can find. We want to continue to encourage and support this important citizen conservation effort.”
The goal is very obvious – to rid the Sunshine State of these invasive species and to get the whole population involved in the action.
3. The Python Hunt Helps to Rid the Everglades of this Invasive Species
As we’ve stated, the goal of this project is simple. The hope is that with more people on board, the state can get rid of these snakes in a short amount of time.
That’s a necessity, as these snakes have already done lasting damage to the local ecosystem.
The only species in Florida that can overpower these snakes are the alligator, and even then, these snakes have adapted to their current environment and are not slowed down by these encounters.
The rate of growth of these animals is truly astounding. A female python can lay up to 100 eggs each year, with her typical lifespan lasting up to 15 years.
Considering the over 150,000 pythons roaming free, that growth is incredibly difficult to slow.
Rabbits, raccoons, possum and more are feeling this increased threat and their populations have dwindled as a result.
But the biggest worry is that changing climate will force the snakes into new territory, expanding their detrimental impacts.
4. Hunters Can Hunt on all Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission Lands
As a result of these snakes moving into new territories, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission is giving hunters access to all of their available lands in order to find and catch a snake.
While these snakes have made the biggest impact in the Everglades, hunters aren’t limited to these lands, offering up more opportunities to find a snake and snag it.
This is a win-win for all, and it encourages even more hunters to join the game.
5. Winners Receive Prizes
And that’s not all! Winners – those who are successful to catch a snake and take a picture with it – will be given prizes. These prizes include a t-shirt, a Yeti tumbler and a $100 gas gift card.
The “Python Pickup Program” as it has been dubbed by the state will conclude in October of 2020, with the commission issuing a drawing of those who submit an entry in the form of photographic proof. Those who are picked will receive these prizes.
That doesn’t include the pride that comes with catching one of these snakes for yourself. That’s free.
Why You Should Give the Florida Python Hunt a Try
If you’re a local Florida resident or you’re an avid hunter that plans to be in the area, there’s nothing quite as heart-pumping as catching an animal you wouldn’t normally be able to get your hands on.
It’s an adrenaline junkies’ dream – and it’s all state-sanctioned.
All it takes is a few supplies, some determination and a will to win. Who’s ready to get their gear and head to Florida for some python hunting?
Heading to Florida? Here are some safety tips to remember for your next trip.