The big hunt for Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades is entering its final hours. More than 1,500 people registered to hunt the invasive species on South Florida public lands. They have until midnight Sunday to catch and kill a python. The carcasses must be turned in by 5 p.m. Monday to qualify for the cash prizes offered as part of the state's "Python Challenge."
There's a new winning snake in the Florida's "Python Challenge."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Sunday that Blake Russ of Fruitland Park should have won $1,000 for bagging the longest Burmese python. Russ competed with hunters holding special permits for harvesting pythons.
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Ruben Ramirez of Miami was given the prize Saturday for a snake more than 10 feet long. Wildlife officials say Ramirez will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,000 of his own for a snake more than 11 feet long.
University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the mix-up was his mistake. Unlike other snakes killed in the hunt, Russ' snake was released with a tracking device.
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Among competitors without the python permits, Paul Shannon of Lehigh Acres won $1,000 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.