Competitors in the 2013 Python Challenge trekked through more than 1 million acres of swamps and sawgrass in search of the Burmese python.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Monday announced 68 Burmese pythons were harvested during the Jan. 12-Feb. 10 competition.
The goal was to heighten public awareness about the invasive species through an unprecedented opportunity to gather data about Burmese python population and its impact on the Everglades ecosystem.
"Thanks to the determination of Python Challenge competitors, we are able to gather invaluable information that will help refine and focus combined efforts to control pythons in the Everglades," FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley said.
At the Python Challenge Awareness and Awards Event at Zoo Miami Feb. 16, FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron and Wiley presented trophies to the top competitors. Nearly 1,600 people from 38 states, the District of Columbia and Canada registered for the competition.
The official 2013 Python Challenge results:
A $1,500 grand prize for harvesting the most Burmese pythons went to Brian Barrows with six pythons in the general competition, and Ruben Ramirez,with 18 pythons in the python permit holders competition.
Second-place prize of $750 went to Bill Booth with five pythons in the general competition, and Blake Russ, five pythons in the python permit holders competition.
The $1,000 first prize for harvesting the longest Burmese python went to Paul Shannon with a 14-foot-3-inch python in the general competition, and Ramirez, with a 10-7 python in the permit holders competition.
Second place and $750 in the longest snake category went to Rigoberto Figueroa, for a 14-2 python in the General competition, and Ramirez, who harvested a 10-3 python in the permit holders competition.
Sponsors included Commissioner "Alligator Ron" Bergeron, Rachel Dodd, the Felburn Foundation, the Flowers Foundation, Golight Inc., Hoorag Bandanas, Incinc, K-Light Solar Lantern and Flashlight, Florida Wildlife Federation, Richmond Criminal Law and B.R. Slocum.
Florida prohibits possession or sale of Burmese pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans importation and interstate sale of the species. Help the fight to control invasive species such as Burmese pythons by reporting sightings of exotic species to 888-IVE-GOT-1 or www.ivegot1.org. Submit a photo and location if possible.
Do not release an exotic pet into the wild.