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Florida to host invasive python hunting competition in August

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(The Center Square) — Florida Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Nunez announced Thursday that the Sunshine State will welcome professionals and novices again for the upcoming 2024 Florida Python Challenge.

Nunez said that registration for the Florida Python Challenge is open. Participants must complete online training to participate in the 10-day competition planned for Aug. 9 through Aug. 19.

In 2023, over 1,000 participants from 35 different states participated in the challenge with more than $25,000 in prizes.

“Back in 2019, Governor DeSantis prioritized making sure that the conservation of Florida’s natural resources was something that our administration was going to champion, and I would say that he has delivered,” Nunez said.

On DeSantis’ second day in office, Nunez said he called for $2.5 billion to be invested during his first term to protect Florida’s water resources and other unique ecosystems, like the Everglades.

The Legislature has appropriated a further $3.5 billion to conservation efforts over the next four years, and Nunez added that this reaffirms DeSantis’ commitment to protecting Florida’s natural beauty.

“So we’re well on our way to not only meeting that goal but surpassing it,” Nunez said. “We’re investing $3.1 billion this term, bringing our total investment since 2019 to a record-breaking $6.5 billion for Everglades restoration and water quality improvement.”

Part of the funding goes towards protecting Florida’s native animals, which are currently threatened by the Burmese python, an invasive species from Asia whose population is growing in the Everglades.

“The Burmese python, as many of you know, is an invasive species that has wreaked havoc on our Everglades ecosystem and is a threat to native wildlife,” Nunez said. “They prey upon native species, they compete with native wildlife for food and habitat and they can also spread non-native diseases.”

Nunez said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is committed to working with partners to preserve natural resources and wants to continue this for years to come.

“For us, the Florida Everglades is a valuable ecosystem that we will always strive to protect and preserve,” Nunez said. “It contains an abundance of habitats and species and they are home to many of Florida’s landmark species such as the Florida panther, the alligator, wading birds and many other native species.”

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