TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Once again, we have a winner in the annual contest of your dreams — your very, very bad dreams, that is.
More than 750 people from 20 states turned up for Florida’s 2020 Python Bowl, catching 80 of the giant invasive snakes, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a release.
The grand prize winner in the 10-day contest is Mike Kimmel, who caught eight Burmese pythons, the commission said Saturday. His prize was a Tracker 570 Off Road all-terrain vehicle.
One contestant, Tom Rahill, caught both the longest, a beast of 12 feet, 7.3 inches, and the heaviest, a 62-pounder. He won $4,000 for his efforts.
Florida holds the contest every year in an effort to put the squeeze on the non-venomous constrictor. Conservationists say the reptiles, estimated to number in the tens of thousands in the Everglades, pose a threat to native wildlife.
Raccoon populations, for example, dropped more than 99% from 1997 to 2012 in the areas where the pythons have been the longest, according to the US Geological Survey.
The Burmese python is one of the most worrying of invasive species in the state and can now be found across more than 1,000 square miles in South Florida, according to the USGS.
If you missed your chance to show off your snake-wrangling skills in the contest, relax. It’s legal to hunt pythons any time on private lands with the landowner’s permission, the FWC said, and the commission will even teach you how to do it.