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New $10,000 award announced for the Florida Python Challenge

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Water Management District and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida are pleased to announce a new $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize exclusive to the 2021 Florida Python Challenge® thanks to sponsor, Virtual Business Services. The award will be presented to the participant who removes the most pythons as part of the competition.

“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.

“I want to thank the public and all of our corporate sponsors for making this challenge possible. The South Florida Water Management District, the FWC and our partners in this great endeavor are teaming up to take the fight to the pythons and we won’t stop until these invasive snakes are eliminated and the Everglades are protected,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron.

“Virtual Business Services is 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.

“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 President and CEO of the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida Andrew Walker.

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.

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 2021 Florida Python Challenge® kicks off at 8 a.m. on July 9, 2021 and ends July 18, 2021 at 5 p.m. Registration is now open and people can sign up to participate until the last day of the event. There is a $25 registration fee and participants must complete free online training.

Visit FLPythonChallenge.org to register for the competition, take the online training, learn more about Burmese pythons and the unique Everglades ecosystem, and find resources for planning your trip to south Florida to participate in the Florida Python Challenge®.

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the FWC and other public and private partners to conserve Florida’s native animals and plants, and the lands and waters they need to survive. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has raised and donated $50 million to conservation and outdoor recreation and education. More information can be found at wildlifeflorida.org.

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and negatively impact native species. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in south Florida where they prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles. A female Burmese python can lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. Since 2000, more than 13,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from the state of Florida. For more information on Burmese pythons, visit MyFWC.com/Python.