The Florida Python Challenge™ 2020 Python Bowl officially kicked off in South Florida with more than 550 people registered for the competition to remove as many pythons from the wild as possible. Native to Southeast Asia, pythons pose a significant threat to Florida’s native wildlife.

Under the direction of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have teamed up with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and other partners to support the Committee’s Ocean to Everglades (O2E) initiative, which features the Python Bowl.

“Today kicks off the 2020 Python Bowl, where participants will head into the Everglades to remove invasive Burmese pythons,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am hopeful the Python Bowl brings much-needed public awareness and engagement on this critical issue: pythons are severely disrupting natural food chains and continue to threaten endangered species.”

This Python Bowl is just one facet of the overall rescue mission to protect the native wildlife of the Everglades from the invasive Burmese python,” said Rodney Barreto, Chairman of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. “The Miami Super Bowl Host Committee is privileged to work with the State of Florida to bring much-needed public attention to this important issue.”

Starting today, participants in the 10-day Python Bowl begin removing Burmese pythons from the Everglades for a chance to win prizes for removing these nonnative constrictors from public lands in South Florida.

Participants who remove the most pythons in the “Pro” and “Rookie” category will win a Tracker 570 Off Road ATV, provided by Bass Pro Shops. Those who remove the longest snake and heaviest snakes in each category will be awarded a cash prize. More details about prizing is available at FLPythonChallenge.org.

Every participant who turns in at least one python as part of the Florida Python Challenge™ 2020 Python Bowl will be eligible for a random drawing for additional prizes including cash and python skin items. Active duty military personnel and veterans who register for the competition will be eligible for additional prizes.

Prize winners will be announced at the Python Bowl awards ceremony on Jan. 25 at the Super Bowl Live event at Bayfront Park in Miami. Participants must be present to win, and the general public is welcome to attend the free event.

“We are grateful for the support from Governor DeSantis and our many partners including the South Florida Water Management District, our sponsors Bass Pro Shops and the Bergeron Everglades Museum and Wildlife Foundation and the members of the public who have stepped up to help us to remove these invasive snakes,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. “It definitely takes a team to tackle this important conservation issue.”

“We are taking aggressive action to restore the Everglades and eliminate invasive pythons from the Greater Everglades Ecosystem,” said SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “The South Florida Water Management District, the FWC and many other partners have removed more than 9,700 pythons from the state of Florida. With the public’s help and partnerships with FWC and the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, we’ll have record success during the Florida Python Challenge. We’re proud to kick off the Florida Python Challenge today and appreciate Governor DeSantis and our partners for their strong commitment to Everglades restoration.”

It’s not too late! People interested in taking part in the Florida Python Challenge™ 2020 Python Bowl can still register at FLPythonChallenge.org. A registration fee of $25 and an online training course are required.

The Florida Python Challenge 2020 Python Bowl is hosted by the FWC and the SFWD. Prizes will be awarded by the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida with funding and prizes provided by Bass Pro Shops and Bergeron Everglades Museum and Wildlife Foundation. For a complete list of rules, prizes, training or registration information, visit FLPythonChallenge.org.

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and negatively impact native species. Wildlife biologists believe Burmese pythons were originally introduced into South Florida as a result of the pet trade. These constrictor snakes are originally from Southeast Asia and thrive in the Everglades ecosystem, an area similar to their native habitat. They are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem in South Florida where they prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles. In 2017, the State of Florida created paid removal programs and has successfully removed more than 3,500 pythons to date. Under the leadership of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state has more than doubled its resources to move the harmful pythons from the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.