Calling all snake hunters: Florida's annual python challenge is back

If a python hunt sounds enticing to you, head to the Everglades. The annual Florida Python Challenge is here.

Competitors will be in the massive swamp, trying to not only catch the most invasive Burmese pythons, but also the biggest. The first day of the challenge begins Friday morning and lasts for ten days. 

These large snakes threaten native wildlife in the region. They’re in the Everglades because they were pets that either escaped or were released there, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"There is so much money being put into the Everglades to restore it. We need to make sure that once that’s complete, that we eradicate this non-native animal," said Rodney Barreto, the Chairman of the FWC.

RELATED: Massive Burmese python nest, 2 females, multiple hatchlings found in Big Cypress

There are cash prizes that range from $1,500 for the longest snake to a grand prize of $2,500 for the person who kills the most pythons.

"These snakes are destroying the natural food chain. You can’t have a healthy environment without a healthy food chain. So, it’s extremely important to the environment," said Ron Bergeron, from the South Florida Water Management District.

There could be tens of thousands of Burmese pythons living in and around the Everglades, according to the FWC. More than 16,000 of them have been removed since 2000.

Back in June, biologists at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida announced their biggest catch yet: an 18-foot python weighing in at 215 pounds.

MORE: Largest Burmese python ever captured in Florida weighs 215 pounds with over 100 developing eggs

The FWC says the snakes can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission.

There are 25 public lands that do not require a permit.

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