Professional python hunters and amateurs alike have a chance to win prizes in Florida's annual hunt for the biggest snakes—the Burmese pythons that are ravaging the state's native species. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state's annual contest on Thursday: It will run from July 9 to July 18 and include prizes for both pros and novices. In both categories, there will be a $2,500 prize for catching the most pythons and $1,500 for the longest, the AP reports. The contest has been held every three years, per WKMG, but DeSantis now wants it to be yearly.
The pythons, which can grow to 20 feet and 200 pounds, are descended from pets released starting five decades ago. The big serpents are overrunning the Everglades and have been devouring native mammal and bird populations. Each adult female lays between 60 and 100 eggs per year. Once the snakes reach adulthood, in about five years, they have no Florida predators besides armed humans and the occasional sawgrass death match with an adult alligator. Projects underway to help the effort include training a dog team to detect the pythons and creating infrared vehicle cameras to spot them, per WFTS. (The state announced a cumulative removal total last year.)