Florida's Simpsons-like Python Challenge has ended, and the results aren't the greatest. Of the estimated 150,000 Burmese pythons populating the state's Everglades, only 68 pythons were killed during the month long harvest. The Florida Wildlife and Conservation put the harvest together to, according to the Python Challenge website, to "educate people on the threat that Burmese pythons present to the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife." But, also, to try and put a dent in the state's python overpopulation.
Over 1,600 amateur hunters travelled from 38 states, the District of Columbia, and even from Canada to participate in the 2013 Python Challenge. Participants competed for $1,500 and $1,000 prizes for killing the biggest or baddest snake they could. Ruben Ramirez harvested the most pythons, accounting for 18 of the contest's total haul. The longest python harvested was 14 feet, three inches long. (This is where those with snake phobias may take a screaming break.)
So, with 1,600 people aiming to kill a possible 150,000 snakes, the contest can't exactly be called a runaway success. Some people didn't carry their weight. Despite the small returns, organizers are still trumpeting the harvest as a success. "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," FWC executive director Nick Wiley said. Contest detractors took issue with the challenge because they thought it was a misguided way to raise conservation awareness. There's no real way to tell if the efforts were a success, though, so no one really comes out on top of this one. The estimated 149,932 snakes who survived could probably be called the contest's biggest winners.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.