Breaking News! $10,000 Prize Announced for 2021 Python Challenge
Thanks to the generosity of Virtual Business Services, the 2021 Florida Python Challenge now has a $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize! The award will be presented to the participant who removes the most pythons as part of the competition.
Virtual Business Services offers free business development services for businesses of all sizes, helping with insurance solutions, payroll options, professional employer organization services (PEO), employee benefits, HR outsourcing, workers’ compensation, marketing, and business basics. “We are proud to partner with the Florida Python challenge. With the fragile ecosystem in our great state of Florida, we are excited to help eradicate the python issue to preserve our native species,” said Virtual Business Services Chief Executive Officer Frank VanDeBoe.
Participants who do not win the Ultimate Grand Prize can still win thousands of dollars for the most pythons in the “Professional” or “Novice” categories. There are also awards for the longest snakes in both categories. Active-duty military personnel and veterans who register for the competition will be eligible for additional prizes. “This is a monumental contribution to the cause of removing Burmese pythons from the Everglades ecosystem. We are grateful to Virtual Business Services for their generous donation and hope this sparks more interest in this important effort. Working under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, we will continue to work with our partners to protect our natural resources from the threat of invasive species,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.
The goal of the Florida Python Challenge is to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology. The annual competition encourages people to get directly involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal.
The annual event begins at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 9, 2021 and ends at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, 2021. All participants must register as a novice or professional. Professionals include experienced hunters paid by the host agencies to remove pythons from the Everglades. Anyone not fitting this description can register for the novice category. Once you’ve successfully registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email. You must have this notice either physically or electronically while removing pythons for the competition.
Competitors will be able to remove Burmese pythons from the following participating areas. Only Burmese pythons removed from these areas will be considered valid entries in the competition.
- Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area
- Frog Pond Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Rocky Glades Public Small Game Hunting Area
- Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area
- Holey Land Wildlife Management Area
- Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area
- Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area
At the end of the competition, the Foundation will award additional prize money to winners in both the novice and professional categories. Active-duty military personnel and veterans will be eligible for additional prizes. The prize money will be awarded as follows:
- Most Pythons Removed Grand Prize: $2,500
- Most Pythons Removed 2Dakota del Norte Place: $750
- Longest Python Removed Grand Prize: $1,500
- Longest Python Removed 2Dakota del Norte Place: $750
And thanks to a generous donation from Virtual Business Services, there will be an Ultimate Grand Prize of $10,000 for the most pythons. “We are thankful for Frank’s commitment to combatting invasive Burmese pythons in the iconic and fragile Everglades. We can’t wait to see how many pythons the challenge is able to remove. We wish all the hunters the best of luck!” said Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker.
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Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia and are one of the largest species of snake found in the world. Due to their large size, Burmese pythons have very few predators, with alligators and humans as the exceptions.
Burmese pythons are established in south Florida, although smaller populations have been found around the state. They have quickly overtaken the Everglades and are drastically reducing the populations of native species in the area. The loss of biodiversity affects the entirety of the Everglades, one of the most unique ecosystems in the world.
Help fight the Burmese python invasion by getting involved in the Florida Python Challenge or by donating here!