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The 2021 Python Challenge is on now in the Everglades

Catch big snakes, win big prizes!

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. — The 2021 Python Challenge kicks off today in the Everglades. It runs through July 18.

It's a way for Florida to get rid of invasive Burmese pythons that are killing our native wildlife. The goal of the challenge is to raise awareness about the invasive snake species and the threats they can pose to the state's ecology, according to the competition's website. 

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis helps kick off the 2021 Florida Python Challenge

You have to be registered to participate and complete a 30-minute online training course. It costs $25 per person. Hunters will get cash prizes for catching the most snakes, and the biggest ones. The top prize is $2,500. 

RELATED: Biologists remove 20,000 pounds of pythons from the Florida Everglades

Over the course of five years, Florida biologists were able to remove more than 20,000 pounds worth of pythons by tracking the reptiles' movements across the southwestern portion of the state. 

During the Python Bowl last year, 80 snakes were removed from the Everglades, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. One snake even broke the state record in 2020, measuring 18.9 feet long. The previous record was 18.8 feet long. 

RELATED: Experts say invasive pythons hold a key COVID-19 vaccine ingredient

It is illegal for anyone to release nonnative species such as Burmese pythons into the wild. FWC says owners who violate this law are responsible for most of the snakes that are harmful to the Everglades.

If you spot these types of snakes, you can report them directly to FWC by calling the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-IveGot1 (888-483-4681), visiting IveGot1.org or using the free IVEGOT1 app.

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