Nearly 1,000 participants from 32 states, Canada and Latvia came together to remove hundreds of Burmese pythons from south Florida as part of the 2022 Florida Python Challenge®. Participants removed 231 invasive Burmese pythons during the 10-day competition created to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology.
Matthew Concepcion removed 28 Burmese pythons, winning the $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize courtesy of the Bergeron Everglades Foundation. Winning the $1,500 grand prize for the longest python removed in the competition, at a length of 11 feet, 0.24 inches, is Dustin Crum. (More information on the winners and prizes is detailed below.)
“Once again, the Florida Python Challenge® has yielded impressive results with hundreds of invasive pythons being removed from the wild,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Removing these snakes is one of the many efforts we are employing to restore and maintain the Everglades ecosystem.”
“Strong partnerships, the dedication of hundreds of python hunters and the unwavering support and leadership of Governor DeSantis, have brought us another great success removing hundreds of Burmese pythons,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Every one of the pythons removed as part of the Challenge is one less preying on our native birds, mammals and reptiles. This is a win for the Everglades and a win for the people of Florida.”
“I’m thrilled to award the Ultimate Grand Prize today to Matthew Concepcion who captured the most pythons during the 2022 Florida Python Challenge®. He captured an incredible 28 pythons! Our python hunters are passionate about what they do and care very much about Florida’s precious environment. We are removing record numbers of pythons and we’re going to keep at it,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member “Alligator Ron” Bergeron. “The great partnership between the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is critical as we work together to protect the Greater Everglades ecosystem and combat invasive pythons. None of this would be possible without the great leadership of Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been committed to Everglades restoration since day one of his administration. Thank you, Governor Desantis for working every day to improve and protect Florida’s natural resources.”
Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Water Management District and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida host the Florida Python Challenge® to continue raising awareness about invasive species in Florida and their impacts. The annual competition encourages people to get directly involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal. This year, the Bergeron Everglades Foundation provided the $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize while Edison National Bank/Bank of the Islands provided prizes to the winners in the active-duty military and veteran category. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Cynthia Drollinger provided the additional prizes. Visit FlPythonChallenge.org. for more information.
2022 Florida Python Challenge® Prize Winners:
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 may lay 50 to 100 eggs at a time. Since 2000, more than 17,000 wild Burmese pythons have been removed from the state of Florida.
In addition to the Florida Python Challenge®, there are other ways people can continue to help control nonnative species such as Burmese pythons. Anyone can remove and humanely kill pythons any time on private lands with landowner permission and on 25 Commission-managed lands throughout south Florida.
The public can also help control invasive species by reporting nonnative fish and wildlife to the FWC’s Invasive Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681), by reporting sightings online at IveGot1.org or by downloading the IveGot1 smartphone app. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.
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 $60 million to conservation and outdoor recreation and education. More information can be found at WildlifeFlorida.org.