Winner Announced for Florida's Python Challenge

10:48 AM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - Winners of the 2013 Python Challenge were announced Saturday at Zoo Miami, along with final figures that included a total of 68 Burmese pythons caught, killed and delivered and one snake that measured 14 feet, 3 inches.

Nearly 1,600 people from 38 states and Canada paid $25 and completed an online training course for the right to compete in the unprecedented, state-sponsored hunt.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission initiated the 30-day hunt to raise public awareness about invasive species in Florida, to gain more specimens for lab study and to get more GPS locations for known Burmese python populations.

"Thanks to the determination of Python Challenge competitors, we are able to gather invaluable information that will help refine and focus combined efforts to control pythons in the Everglades," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley said.

"The enthusiastic support from the public, elected officials, conservation organizations, government agencies and researchers gives hope that we can make progress on this difficult conservation challenge by working together," Wiley said.

Winners included:

Brian Barrows: $1,500 for most pythons caught (6) in the general hunt

Ruben Ramirez: $1,500 for most python caught (18) in the trained/permitted class

Paul Shannon: $1,000 for longest snake in the general hunt at 14-feet-3-inches

Ruben Ramirez, again: $1,000 for longest python in trained/permitted class

A report will be completed and examined by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, later this year and perhaps into 2014, to determine if the hunt was successful and should be held again.

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