Florida gears up for new Python Challenge kick off (VIDEOS)

Based on the last Python Challenge in 2013– which aimed to help rid the Sunshine State of huge invasive snakes– wildlife officials in Florida announced details of the 2016 Challenge this week.

The removal competition is set for Jan. 16- Feb. 14, 2016 and participants will be able register this fall as individuals or part of a team consisting of as many as five people.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron explained the challenge is needed because Burmese pythons continue to be a significant issue in the Everglades and threaten the ecosystem.

The coming competition will be able to access even more land than before in an effort to seek out the big serpents where they hide.

“We look forward to expanding access into the Park and to providing more opportunities for members of the public to become approved authorized python agents,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “I hope that our increased participation this year will engage the public and highlight the scientific work that is being done to care for our public lands.”

For more information, and perhaps the only chance to hunt pythons in the U.S., go to PythonChallenge.org for upcoming training events, competition rules, registration, and prizes.

The 2013 challenge caught 68 Burmese pythons in the wild, the longest of which was over 14 feet in length.

Below is a recap of that event.