The squeeze was on as more than 1,000 of snake catchers from 29-states scoured the Florida Everglades for Burmese pythons during this year’s “Python Challenge.” The event, which ran from January 16-Feb.14th didn’t really do that much to control the state’s invasive snake population, but wildlife officials did note that 106 reptiles were captured, 33 by Bill Booth of Sarasota and his team, which took home the prize for biggest haul. The also caught the longest python during the hunt, measuring 15-feet long.
In the meantime, Daniel Moniz of Bricktown, New Jersey, won a prize for the longest python, 13’ 8.7, caught by an individual, after suffering suffered bites to the face, neck and arm. Moniz, who said he was suffering through the economic hardship of been laid off from his landscaping job for the winter, completed the wildlife commission’s online training and spent a month biking over 40 miles a day over levees through the wetlands. In the end, he was credited with bagging 13 pythons including his prize winner.
“Whether they’re fishermen or they’re hunters or they’re hikers or they’re birdwatchers, they are all e all looking for the python,” stated wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron.”
The Burnese pythons believed to be descendants of exotic pets that had been released into the wild have been devastating the animal population in South Florida for years, eating everything from deer to large wading birds such as storks, as well as small animal species from foxes to rabbits to name but a few.
After necropsies are performed on of the captured snakes, including analyzing the contents of their stomachs, the hunters are free to reclaim the carcasses and do whatever they want with them. While some choose to have them mounted as trophies, others often turn them into handbags or boots, while about half the hunters end up selling the dead snakes off for around $150 a piece.