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Gear up for the Python Challenge

Register online and get hands-on python capture training before the event.

FWC officers display a captured Burmese python, which is a non-venomous, but invasive snake.

If you haven't done so yet, register for the 2016 Python Challenge™ Python Removal competition to see if you can harvest the longest or the most Burmese pythons. The grand prize is $5,000 for the team category and $3,500 for the individual category. All participants are required to take a free online training session before registering for the Python Removal competition, which begins at noon Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, and ends at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.

The 2016 Python Challenge™ is a conservation effort that includes public outreach on invasive species and a month-long competition to remove Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida. The aim of the 2016 Python Challenge™ is to engage the public to participate in Everglades conservation through invasive species awareness and removal.



People who live in southwest Florida can learn to identify and safely capture Burmese pythons at upcoming 2016 Python Challenge™ in-person training sessions in Lee and Collier counties.

Training for Lee County is on Dec. 20 at the Olga Community Center in Fort Myers, with both morning and afternoon sessions. Can't make it to the December training? You can still sign up for training in Collier County on Jan. 19 at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples. For those who can't make the west coast trainings, more sessions are offered in different locations throughout south Florida in December, January and February.

Training includes an overview of the 2016 Python Challenge™ and will help teach participants how to identify, locate, and safely and humanely capture Burmese pythons. Each training session begins with a classroom presentation followed by an outdoor hands-on session with live, wild-caught pythons.

There is no cost to attend the sessions, which last approximately two hours and are available to anyone who is interested; they are optional for competition participants. All training participants must wear long pants and closed-toe shoes in order to participate.

Visit PythonChallenge.org for more information about 2016 Python Challenge™ registration and training opportunities. You can also learn about Burmese pythons, the unique Everglades ecosystem and details about the 2016 Python Challenge™, including information about registration, competition rules, online contests and more.

In addition to the regional training opportunities, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is conducting a Virtual Snake Finding Mission, “releasing” toy snakes near popular Florida landmarks in an effort to raise awareness about nonnative species in Florida. The search for the toy snakes ? which are superimposed on pictures of Florida landmarks ? is part of the 2016 Python Challenge™. The project allows people from all over the world to be part of this effort to reduce the negative impacts of nonnative species.



Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 8, people can visit Facebook.com/MyFWC for a clue to where one of the brightly-colored toy snakes is virtually hiding. The first person to match our answer will win a Python Challenge™ Prize Pack, which will include a mixture of Python Challenge™ items like a T-shirt, tumbler, sticker hat and bag. The toy snake is included too. Every winner of the Virtual Snake Finding Mission will be entered in a grand prize drawing for a $100 Bass Pro Shops gift card!

“The search for these snakes is designed to remind people that they can get involved and help be a part of the solution to invasive species in Florida,” said Kristen Sommers, Wildlife Impacts Management section leader for the FWC. “The FWC hopes that the 2016 Python Challenge™ activates more people to go out, look for and either properly report or (when possible) remove Burmese pythons from the wild.”

Visit PythonChallenge.org for details about the Virtual Snake Finding Mission, as well as Python Removal Competition rules, registration, training and more.

To report nonnative fish and wildlife, call the FWC's Invasive Species Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681), report your sighting online at IveGot1.org or download the IveGot1 smartphone app.

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