The 2023 Florida Python Challenge wrapped up with 1,050 snake hunters from 35 different US States (and Belgium) capturing hundreds of invasive Burmese pythons and removing them from South Florida.
Invasive Burmese pythons have been proliferating in South Florida for years, particularly in The Everglades National Park, where they face virtually zero predation and are perfectly camouflaged to the surroundings. And the annual Florida Python Challenge has sought to keep those population numbers in check by turning python removal into a lucrative competition.
This year’s Florida Python Challenge was won by a man from Tennessee. Paul Hobbs successfully removed 20 Burmese pythons during the 10-day competition and earned a grand prize of $10,000 for removing the most snakes of any participant.
2023 Florida Python Challenge Winners and Results
In total, there were 209 Burmese pythons removed during this year’s competition. Ronald Kiger won the Ultimate Grand Prize Runner-Up for $7,500 after removing 14 pythons.
There were also Novice, Professional, and Military divisions for ‘most snakes’ and ‘longest snake.’ Amy Siewe won the ‘longest snake captured’ Novice division with a 10’9″ snake. Rom Rahill won the professional division with an 8’4″ Burmese python successfully removed from South Florida. And Jeff Lince won the Military division with a 7’10” python caught.
As mentioned above, Paul Hobbs won the Overall Grand Prize with 20 snakes removed. Quentin Archie won the Professional division with 13 snakes caught, Bob Blank won the Novice division with 7 snakes, and Justin Morgan won the Military division with 7 snakes removed.
While 209 Burmese pythons might seem like a drop of water in the bucket, it is still a LOT of invasive snakes successfully removed from South Florida. And the removal of the larger snakes is particularly crucial to cutting off the most robust genetic lines of these invasive snakes, which is part of why the annual Python Challenge is lauded by ecologists.
Speaking to the competition’s winners, Florida’ Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez congratulated everyone involved with the annual competition.
In a press release, Lt. Gov Nuñez said “Removing these invasive pythons is an important part of our efforts to protect the Everglades, and this competition allows people to get involved in Florida’s conservation efforts for one of the world’s most prized natural resources.” She added “I thank everyone involved in making the Florida Python Challenge® a successful event year after year, and I congratulate the winners of this year’s competition.”
How to get involved in next year’s Python Challenge
Anyone and everyone are eligible to compete in the annual Florida Python Challenge. All it requires is completion of a quick course online beforehand and an entry fee. Visit the Python Challenge website for more information on entry into the 2024 competition.