Florida teen wins top prize by capturing 28 pythons in annual competition
A 19-year-old south Florida man captured 28 Burmese pythons in a 10-day competition created to increase awareness about the threat the invasive snakes pose to state ecology.
Matthew Concepcion was among the 1,000 people from 32 states, Canada and Latvia who participated in the annual challenge, which removed 231 of the unwanted pythons, the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission said.
Concepcion was awarded the $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize courtesy of the Bergeron Everglades Foundation. Dustin Crum won a $1,500 grand prize for removing the longest python, at just over 11ft.
Earlier this year, biologists hauled in the heaviest Burmese python ever captured in Florida. That female weighed in at 215lb, was nearly 18ft and had 122 developing eggs, according to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Burmese pythons are protected by Florida anti-cruelty law, so participants had to document that each one was killed humanely.
Concepcion told the South Florida SunSentinel he has been hunting pythons for about five years, typically looking for them at night when they are on the move, seeking the warmth of roads. He uses his vehicle lights to spot them. This year, however, he only spotted one on the roads in the Everglades, so he changed tactics.
‘I worked a levee, caught a couple hatchings, and was like, ‘Dang, this might be the ticket!’ So every single night from then on, I went out there – just before sundown to sunup.’
Concepcion says he walked a canal, using a flashlight to search the underbrush. Smaller snakes are so well camouflaged that he looks for their shadows cast by the flashlight beam, he told the paper. But larger snakes are easier to find.
‘They will have a slightly purple tint to them. They’re really beautiful.’
Concepcion said he may use some of his earnings to buy a powerful lighting set-up for his truck, which will help him spot more snakes.
‘Alligator Ron’ Bergeron, a board member of the South Florida Water Management District, said- ‘Our python hunters are passionate about what they do and care very much about Florida’s precious environment. We are removing record numbers of pythons and we’re going to keep at it.’
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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