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Man captures 13-foot python during Python Challenge

Snake weighed 95 pounds

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Python Challenge is unique to Florida and brings people from all over to the Everglades to hunt the invasive species.

One St. Johns County man might be leading the pack with his catch: A 95-pound, 13-foot python. Jack Merwin, a psychologist living in Crescent Beach, says he's been hunting and trapping nuisance species his entire life.

He said he and his friend jumped at the chance to hunt pythons in the Everglades.

"I knew that it was a snake and I could begin to see this pattern on (it) as it came up," Merwin said.

The Burmese python is believed to be the largest captured in the Everglades this year. The two had only been hunting for about three hours when they spotted the snake. A half-hour after making the catch, they found another one that was 8 feet long.

"I've got a couple of buddies who weren't able to go on this excursion and if one of them steps up and says, 'Let's do a couple days down there,' I'm ready to go," Merwin said.

Both snakes are now skinned. Merwin said he hopes to win the competition and the cash prize of $750 to $5,000.

"If I had two more as an individual, that could put me in the money," Merwin said. "That'd be nice. Pay for my trip and some boots for my wife."

The FWC started the competition to rid the Everglades of some of the pythons, which are a serious danger to native wildlife, according to officials.

The competition lasts until Feb. 14.