(NewsNation) — The annual Florida Python Challenge concluded Sunday, and snake hunter Dusty Crum hailed it as one of the most successful ever.
Crum was one of more than 800 participants who scoured the Florida Everglades over the past eight days looking for the invasive Burmese python. The Python Challenge is an annual competition that awards prizes for the most pythons removed and longest python removed.
“More hunters equals more snakes caught,” Crum said. “That’s a huge win for the Everglades.”
The Burmese python poses a threat to native wildlife, preying on birds, mammals and other reptiles. Females can lay 50 to 100 eggs at one time, according to a news release from the Florida Python Challenge.
“The rabbits are gone because they’re the easiest of prey,” Crum said.
Catching a python is no easy task; it requires dedication and a lot of driving, Crum said.
“The more time you put out in the Glades, the more chances you’re gonna cross paths with one,” he said. “You can’t catch them sitting on the couch.”
While the competition is only a week long, Crum catches snakes year-round. He estimates he and his team have captured more than 6,000 over the past four years.
Crum said the numbers for this year’s competition have not yet been finalized.
Statewide, more than 17,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from Florida since 2000, according to the Python Challenge. The effort seems to be paying off, too.
“We’re seeing some native wildlife return to areas that have been hit hard,” Crum said. “We’re not gonna stop until it’s a done mission.”