A St. John’s County man is headed south Sunday to participate in Florida’s Python Challenge, a competition to see which hunters can bag the largest and the most Burmese Python snakes.
The competition begins Saturday in Davie, FL. A recruitment video, produced by Florida Fish and Wildlife, tells the story of how the snakes are destroying the Everglades.
In the video, it says, "the Burmese Python is an evasive species threatening the Everglades ecosystem. These snakes are capable of reaching lengths of more than 17 feet."
The Burmese Pythons were brought here as pets, but many grew too big and their owners released them into the wild. Now, with no natural predators, the snakes are taking over.
Dave Fenner of St. John’s County is one of 640 hunters who registered for the competition looking to win the 1,500 for the person who captures the most snakes.
Fenner has been capturing and releasing snakes since he was a children, and while he has never killed a snake before, he has a plan.
You really want to get them by the tail and you have to euthanize them with either a machete or a gun. It all depends if they are trying to get away, grab them by the tail then decapitate them. Or if they are sitting there then go ahead and decapitate them that way. It can be dangerous,” said Fenner.
Fenner knows the risks involved with trapping the snakes that can reach over 200 pounds, but he is not really worried.
“There are risks involved. There are venomous snakes. I know the risks involved. I’ve done this my whole life,” Fenner said.