EVERGLADES, Fla. — It’s an issue that is slithering its way into Florida’s ecosystem.
The growing presence of Burmese pythons- an invasive species to the Sunshine State- has lead to the Florida Python Challenge. The gaming tournament is uniting hunters from far and wide.
“I figured why not come down and help Florida remove some invasives?”
Shawn Allen and his son Devyn have traveled from Vermont, in town for the Florida Python Challenge. The goal: to catch and remove invasive Burmese pythons. On Monday, they caught an impressive 13-footer!
“She was coming out of the grasslands, coming from the canal system going towards the Delta Flats for cooling off periods and probably just to digest some food to layup away from other predators,” said Shawn. “Knowing a little bit about the biology of the animal kind of gives you an edge on catching them. You have to be in the right place at the right time.”
Originally a native of Florida, Allen jumped at the opportunity to help out his home state from the invasive species. Being a natural Floridian, it’s helped him navigate the rocky passages and combat those pesky mosquitoes. Having the right equipment is an essential.
“It’s a very serious thing they do,” he says. “They eliminate a lot of species of wildlife and some aquatics. It’s nice to come down and try to help collect those invasives.”
The father-son duo are used to working together. They run a pest control operation back in Vermont. Although these pests might be of a different breed than what they’re accustomed to, they couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work together… and make some memories along the way.
“An experience to remember when we get older,” says Devyn. “Something to tell the grand kids or something.”
“For me it wasn’t about the money, it was to come back and give back to an industry that I am a big part of,” said Shawn. “It’s a win-win for me. Money value is nothing really compared to coming down with my son and doing professional-level work and removing some pythons.”
And with the competition coming to a close Sunday, there’s still belief they’ll find that trophy python in the end.
“We recovered a big animal but I don’t know if that’s going to place me,” Shawn said. “Hopefully it does but, if it doesn’t, I’m fine with that. We came with a goal in mind and we accomplished that goal so I can go home and definitely say we did good.”
You can find out more information about this year’s Python Challenge online right here.