Are You Ready for Python Bowl?
By: Kyle Grammatica
Floridians have two very exciting events coming to the Miami-Dade area next year: Super Bowl and the Python Bowl! The Python Bowl is a Burmese python hunting competition set to start January 10th, 2020. It was recently announced by Governor DeSantis, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The competition is designed to use 2020 Super Bowl excitement to help fuel the removal of the invasive Burmese pythons overtaking the Everglades and south Florida. The Python Bowl will last 10 days, January 10th to January 19th. The winners of the competition will be announced on January 25th during the opening of the Super Bowl Live fan fest. Entrants who catch the biggest, longest, and most pythons will be awarded cash prizes and there are also all-terrain vehicles up for grabs courtesy of Bass Pro Shops. Python skin footballs will also be produced and given to important guests during the event.
Python hunting challenges have been held every three years since 2013 but will now be held annually by the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The agencies have removed more than 3,600 pythons from the area through their programs including FWC’s Python Action Team and the Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program. For the Python Bowl, hunters will have access to more land than in previous years as the Department of the Interior recently opened up 150 more miles at Big Cypress National Preserve for the python hunters to use.
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia and are one of the largest species of snake found in the world. They are tan colored with markings on their body that look similar to giraffe markings. They have a pyramid-shaped head with a dark, arrowhead-shaped wedge extending toward their nose. They are semi aquatic and are excellent climbers. They prey upon a variety of mammals, birds, and even alligators. Due to their large size, Burmese pythons have very few predators, with alligators and humans as the exceptions.
Burmese pythons are most established in south Florida, mostly in the Everglades, although smaller populations have been found around the state. Burmese pythons became established in the state through the exotic pet trade, and as a result of Hurricane Andrew destroying a breeding facility in 1992. Burmese pythons prey upon a variety of animals, including many of Florida’s threatened species like the Key Largo wood rat. They have quickly overtaken the Everglades and are drastically reducing the populations of native species in the area. The loss of biodiversity can affect the entirety of the Everglades, one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. If you would like to participate in the 2020 Python Bowl, or are looking to get more involved in Everglades conservation click here. You can also donate to fund projects created to remove invasive species here.