Monday, September 18, 2023

Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez Announces Winners of 2023 Florida Python Challenge

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez announced the winners of the 2023 Florida Python Challenge®. 1,050 participants from 35 states and Belgium removed 209 Burmese pythons from south Florida during the 10-day competition created by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology. This year’s winner removed 20 Burmese pythons, taking home a $10,000 ultimate grand prize.

“Removing these invasive pythons is an important part of our efforts to protect the Everglades, and this competition allows people to get involved in Florida’s conservation efforts for one of the world’s most prized natural resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I thank everyone involved in making the Florida Python Challenge® a successful event year after year, and I congratulate the winners of this year’s competition.”

The winners of the 2023 Florida Python Challenge® were announced at today’s Awards Ceremony at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie, FL. The Ultimate Grand Prize Winner was Paul Hobbs who removed 20 Burmese pythons, winning $10,000. The Ultimate Grand Prize Runner-Up, Ronald Kiger, took home $7,500 for removing 14 pythons. Additionally, the winner in the Military category was Justin Morgan, who took home $2,500 for removing 7 pythons. For a full list of winners, click here.

“The success of the 2023 Florida Python Challenge® would not have been possible without the dedication of over 1,000 competition participants, efforts from staff, support from our partners, and the strong leadership of Governor DeSantis,” said Rodney Barreto, FWC Chairman. “This success has a direct positive impact on the Everglades and our native wildlife.”

“It is great to see so many people participate in this year’s Florida Python Challenge® that brings awareness to removing invasive species from Florida’s environment,” said Roger Young, FWC Executive Director. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis and our many partners, we have the privilege to reward the public for their interest in getting outdoors and helping to conserve Florida’s natural resources.”

“Congratulations to all of the 2023 Florida Python Challenge winners! The iconic Everglades is a national treasure and I am proud of all of our python hunters who are so dedicated to improving Florida’s natural resources. Today’s celebration would not have been possible without the great leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez who are continuing their steadfast commitment to Everglades restoration and improving South Florida’s ecosystem,” 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 remains critical as we work together to combat invasive pythons. Long live the Everglades.”

“Thank you to all of the staff from the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who worked to help facilitate this year’s Florida Python Challenge. Over a 1,000 people participated in the annual Python Challenge and experienced the magic of the Everglades this year,” said South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “The annual python challenge is a great way to get the public involved in understanding the unique Everglades ecosystem. We continue to expedite Everglades restoration efforts thanks to the support of Governor DeSantis and Lt. Governor Núñez, and we’ll continue working to protect South Florida’s natural resources and combat invasive species like Burmese pythons.”

Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, 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.

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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 19,000 wild Burmese pythons have been removed from the state of Florida and reported to FWC, including more than 11,000 Burmese pythons removed since 2019.