New winner announced for state's Python Challenge

Published On: Feb 18 2013 07:09:26 AM EST
MIAMI -

There's a new winning snake in the state's "Python Challenge."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Sunday that Blake Russ of Fruitland Park should have won $1,500 for bagging the longest Burmese python. Russ competed with hunters holding special permits for harvesting pythons.

Ruben Ramirez of Miami was given the prize Saturday for a snake more than 10 feet long. Wildlife officials say Ramirez will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,500 of his own for a snake more than 11 feet long.

University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the mix-up was his mistake. Unlike other snakes killed in the hunt, Russ' snake was released with a tracking device.

Among competitors without the python permits, Paul Shannon of Lehigh Acres won $1,500 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.