Yup!  I couldn't believe it at first, but it's for real!  And it's being held by the University of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The 2013 Python Challenge officially started on January the 12th at 1:00 PM and ends February the 10th at midnight.  There is an exception though.  The Big Cypress WMA is only open to this event through February 1st, 2013.

Now you may ask what in the world are Burmese pythons doing in the Florida Everglades in the first place?  Well from around 1996 to 2006 approximately 99,000 Burmese pythons were imported to the USA.  Previously, around 17,000 were imported between 1970 and 1995.  Those are big numbers!  They pretty much match the size of a full grown python, which can reach roughly 17 plus feet long.  For those that like snakes, the python has some nice characteristics such as their color pattern and docility (for real!?) making them attractive (when at a manageable size and appetite) to people that like snakes.

So here is the problem: their immense size!  Within a year they can grow to 5 or more feet and need to be fed live mice and rabbits.  At 10 or more (many more) feet and weighing upwards of 200 pounds the owners wound up releasing them in the wild.

In the wild, specifically the Everglades, they prey on a wide variety of native wildlife such as raccoons, birds, bobcats.  The whole works.  Kidding apart, their voracious appetite is leading to a decrease of the native wildlife to an extent that it has become a serious problem.

Government agencies and universities have been tracking them down, studying their habits and verifying their location so as to track the extent of their invasiveness.

So why not invite people to help find and harvest the Burmese python?  The information required by the person that finds and harvests a python will also help gain even more knowledge of the characteristics of this invasive snake in the Florida Everglades.  And if you find and harvest the longest one, you get $1,000!  For the most pythons harvested, $1,500.  Sounds great doesn't it?  I think so!  Let's go Florida Python Hunting!

Now there are rules and regulations to be followed.  So please be aware of them all, not only pertaining to the competition itself but also those having to do with the designated Wildlife Management areas also.

More to come!  Hang on there (by the tail- I'll explain)!

Sign up now at www.pythonchallenge.org!