Up to the challenge? Gov. DeSantis launches 2022 Florida Python Challenge

Gov. Ron DeSantis poses with a Burmese Python at a news conference Thursday announcing the opening of registration for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge. (WJXT)

Registration for the 2022 Florida Python Challenge is open. The annual 10-day event will be held Aug. 5-14, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday.

Over 600 people from 25 states registered to take part in the 10-day competition in 2021, and participants removed 223 invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades, more than double the number that was removed in 2020.

“The Everglades is one of the world’s most prized natural resources, and we have invested record funding for Everglades restoration projects, including record funding for removal of invasive Burmese pythons which wreak havoc on the ecosystem,” DeSantis said in a news conference announcing the opening of registration for the 2022 Challenge. “Because of this focus, we have removed record numbers of invasive pythons from the Everglades. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, and I look forward to seeing the results of this year’s Python Challenge.”

Members of the public are now able to take the required online training and register to compete to win thousands of dollars in prizes while removing invasive Burmese pythons from the wild. The competition is open to both professional and novice participants.

“The Florida Python Challenge provides an opportunity for people to actively participate in Everglades conservation by removing the Burmese python, an invasive species that is actively damaging our native wildlife populations,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton. 

Since 2019, the state has taken action to remove pythons in Florida

  • DeSantis directed FWC and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to allow for the removal of invasive Burmese pythons from all state parks. The agencies entered into an agreement that resulted in an additional 134,648 acres of land that are now accessible for python removal.
  • DeSantis announced the U.S. Department of the Interior granted Florida’s request to increase access to federal lands for python removal, particularly within the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The state budget, recently signed by the governor, makes a record investment of up to $3 million for python removal efforts, including supporting research and development of innovative technologies that detect and remove invasive pythons. This includes the development of near-infrared cameras that better detect pythons.

“In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the South Florida Water Management District is removing about 60% more pythons each year under the leadership of Governor DeSantis,” said South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “The Python Challenge is yet another way to get people directly involved in the protection and stewardship of the Everglades. We continue to expedite Everglades restoration efforts thanks to the support of Governor DeSantis, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to protect this important ecosystem.”

Visit FLPythonChallenge.org to register for the competition, take the online training, register for optional in-person trainings, 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.

In addition to python removal efforts on public lands, pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission — no permit or hunting license required — and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.