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Pythons (snakes)

Can a gun be used to kill a python in the Florida Python Challenge? Here are the rules.

This August, you could win $10,000 for killing pythons, but you can't use a firearm. Here's why.

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If Floridians are looking for a way to become $10,000 richer, killing pythons may be it.

The Florida Python Challenge starts in August and incentivizes hunters to euthanize as many invasive Burmese pythons as possible.

But according to competition rules, hunters can't use a firearm to kill the snakes.

When is it OK to use a firearm to kill a python and when is it a problem? Here's what we know.

What is the Florida Python Challenge?

The Florida Python Challenge is a聽聽held in August.

Participants have nine days to kill as many Burmese pythons as possible. The 2024 competition begins at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 9 and ends at 5 p.m. Aug. 18.

The competition helps protect the Everglades habitat and all its native animals by removing the invasive snakes.

Can I use a gun to kill a python in the Florida Python Challenge?

Participants are not allowed to use firearms to kill pythons during the Florida Python Challenge because there's no established firearm season at the competition locations during the time frame.

Novices must humanely kill their captured pythons immediately after catching them.

Contestants can use air guns and captive bolts to kill pythons at any time of day or night.

When can contestants use a gun to kill a Florida python?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says Burmese pythons can be shot on private property at any time as long as the landowner gives permission. A permit is not needed.

Traps or firearms cannot be used to kill pythons unless specific area regulations allow it.

The conservation commission's Executive order 23-16 allows for the public to humanely kill pythons and other nonnative reptiles without a permit or hunting license as long as area regulations are followed. Also, hunting is not allowed in areas closed to public access.

Ruben Ramirez with some of the Burmese pythons he captured with hunting partner George Brana during the Python Challenge in the Florida Everglades.

Behold! Some of the biggest Burmese pythons caught during Florida Python Challenge

In last year's hunt, 209 snakes were caught. A 2012 study suggested that in Everglades National Park, pythons were responsible for a decline of 85% to 100% of the population of medium-sized animals such as raccoons and rabbits.

How can a python be humanely killed?

If hunters are in an area where a gun can be used to kill a python, two steps must be followed:

  • Step 1: There must be immediate loss of consciousness.
    • A captive bolt, firearm or air gun must be used to shoot directly to the brain.
  • Step 2: The brain must be destroyed.
    • The python must be unconscious.
    • A small rod, like a screwdriver, spike or pick, must be inserted into the cranial cavity and twisted to ensure the entire brain is destroyed.

Contributing: Laura Lordi and Greg Lovett

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