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Python Challenge Returns To South Florida In 2016

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida's Burmese Python hunt will return after all. In 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held a Python Challenge in an effort to rid the Everglades of some of the invasive snakes.

1,600 people took part in the snake hunt but it appeared the challenge would not return until now.

The FWC announced details Tuesday of its 2016 Python removal competition which is set to take place January 16 – February 14th.

Participants will be able to sign up as an individual competitor or as part of a team of up to five people.

"We're launching the 2016 Python Challenge because Burmese pythons continue to be a significant issue in the Everglades," said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. "We hope these efforts will increase sightings and removal of pythons over the long-term in this valuable ecosystem."

The python challenge isn't just a snake hunt but also a conservation effort that includes public outreach on invasive species.

The 2016 challenge will take place in a larger geographic area than the one held in 2013.

The FWC is working with several state and federal land management agencies, including Everglades National Park, to provide access to additional public land areas during the competition.

According to Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos, "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. 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."

The 2013 hunt netted 68 of the invasive snakes and raised awareness about Florida's problems with pythons.

It's unknown how many pythons live in Florida's Everglades. Researchers say the large snakes are among the invasive species that are eating native wildlife at an alarming rate.

Details about upcoming training events, competition rules, registration, prizes and events will be posted at as they are finalized.

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