The 2016 Python Challenge has officially ended and announced the winners of the competition. Declared a success by the FWC, more than 1,000 hunters from 29 states participated, removing 106 snakes for their shot at some $16,000 awarded over various categories.
Bill Booth and his team – including Duane Clark, Dusty Crum and Craig Nicks – won the $5,000 grand prize for killing and removing 33 Burmese pythons, including an additional $3,000 for capturing the longest snake at 15 feet, 125 pounds.
“We are pleased with the success of this year’s Python Challenge,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “Each python that is removed makes a difference for our native wildlife, and the increased public awareness will help us keep people involved as we continue managing invasive species in Florida.”
The Burmese python population in the Everglades, which is native to Southeast Asia, is believed to be well over 100,000.
“We are excited to see so many people contribute to this important effort to conserve Florida’s natural treasure, the Everglades ecosystem,” said Bergeron. “We need to keep this momentum going now that the competition is over.”
The awareness the event brings to the environmental concerns caused by the Burmese pythons is more important than how many are captured during the event. If any progress is to be made in the fight against the growing python problem, the drive to remove them must remain consistent. It’ll take far more than a month long challenge to get the exploding population of this elusive snake under control.