The great snake hunt is on! More than 800 people compete in Florida's Everglades to remove invasive Burmese pythons with the hopes of winning up to $2,500 in cash

  • Florida's annual python hunt kicked off Friday at 5am ET and will run through 5pm ET on August 14
  • More than 800 are now searching through the Everglades looking for invasive Burmese pythons that they will capture and bring back
  • There are cash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories 

More than 800 people have ventured into the dense vegetation of Florida's Everglades, where they will compete to humanely capture invasive Burmese pythons for the next 10 days in a bid to win thousands of dollars in prize money.

The annual python removal competition kicked off Friday at 8am ET and will run through 5pm ET on August 14.

Pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but have been wreaking havoc in the Florida since the 1970s, as they pose a threat to the native wildlife – and studies show these large snakes have wiped out populations of rabbits and foxes in the Everglades National Park.

The group of hunters includes Amy Siewe, 45, who told NBC: 'I don't look like I can catch a 17-foot snake. 'But I can.'

Siewe, who is five feet, four inches tall and weighs 120 pounds, is a paid contractor of the state and hunts pythons all year long. Contractors have removed 10,000 of the snakes since Florida began hiring them in 2007.

So far, the registered hunters represent 32 states and Canada. Registrations are being accepted throughout the competition. It costs $25 to register and participants must also complete an online training course.

Cash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories for those who remove the most pythons, officials said. There are additional prizes for the longest python in each category. Each python must be dead, with hunters facing disqualification if they kill them inhumanely or kill a native snake.

Scroll down for video 

Hundreds of people are searching for Burmese pythons in Florida's Everglades for the states annual hunt to control the large population

Hundreds of people are searching for Burmese pythons in Florida's Everglades for the states annual hunt to control the large population

The Florida Python Challenge has led to the removal of more than 17,000 snakes since its inception in 2000.

Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, FWC, South Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida host the Florida Python Challenge to increase awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida's ecology.

The annual competition encourages people to get directly involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal.

Participants in the 2021 Florida Python Challenge removed 223 invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades, more than double the number that was removed in 2020. Over 600 people from 25 states registered to take part in the 10-day competition in 2021.

The annual python removal competition kicked off Friday at 8am ET and will run through 5pm ET on August 14. Pictured is a young boy learning how to humanely capture a Burmese python

The annual python removal competition kicked off Friday at 8am ET and will run through 5pm ET on August 14. Pictured is a young boy learning how to humanely capture a Burmese python

Just like Siewe, another contractor was on the prowl last month in search of Burmese pythons that led him to a nursery with two massive females, 23 eggs and dozens of new hatchlings.

Matthew Rubenstein, an officer for the commission, and python contractor Alex McDuffie found two nesting areas in Big Cypress National Preserve, located in South Florida.

The pair first snagged a 10-foot female Burmese python while it sat on 23 unhatched eggs and 18 new hatchlings slithering nearby.

McDuffie reported to Rubenstein that upon returning to the same site the following evening, he removed a second breeding female that measured 17 feet, six inches long.

Last month, FWC officer Matthew Rubenstein and python contractor Alex McDuffie raided a python nest. They  found two large pythons, eggs and hatchlings

Last month, FWC officer Matthew Rubenstein and python contractor Alex McDuffie raided a python nest. They  found two large pythons, eggs and hatchlings

Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured this massive female python that turned out to weigh 215 pounds and measure 17.7 feet long

Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured this massive female python that turned out to weigh 215 pounds and measure 17.7 feet long

Although Burmese pythons are all over the Everglades, they are hard to capture due to them living deep within the swamps.

However, snake hunters have become creative to find these snakes – they are using males to hunt down females.

Douglas Main, senior writer and editor at National Geographic, spoke with DailyMail.com last month about how this technique was used to capture the largest python ever recorded in Florida—or anywhere outside its native range.

Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured this massive female python that turned out to weigh 215 pounds and measure 17.7 feet long.

Advertisement

More than 800 people compete in Florida's Everglades to remove invasive Burmese pythons

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.