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THE RIVER - AUGUST 28, 2015
Return In 2016
Building on the success of its 2013
Python Challenge, the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) and the Fish and
Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Inc. this
week announced additional details of the
2016 Python Challenge, a conservation
effort that includes public outreach on
invasive species and a month-long com-
petition to remove Burmese pythons
from public lands in Florida.
Next year’s Challenge will take place
in a larger geographic area than the
2013 Python Challenge. The FWC is
working in coordination with several state
and federal land management agencies,
including Everglades National Park, to
provide access to additional public land
areas during the competition.
“We look forward to expanding access
into the park and to providing more
opportunities for members of the public
to become approved authorized python
agents,” said Everglades National Park
Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “I hope
that our increased participation this year
will engage the public and highlight the
scientific work that is being done to care
for our public lands.”
The dates of the python removal
competition in south Florida are set
for January 16 to February 14, 2016.
Participants will be able to sign up as an
individual competitor or as part of a team
of up to five people.
“We’re launching the 2016 Python
Challenge because Burmese pythons
continue to be a significant issue in the
Everglades,” said FWC Commissioner
Ron Bergeron. “We hope these efforts
will increase sightings and removal of
pythons over the long-term in this valu-
The aim of the 2016 Python
Challenge is to promote Everglades con-
servation through invasive species remov-
al, and the FWC and the Foundation are
also increasing opportunities for the pub-
lic to receive training so they can help.
Training events will teach participants
how to identify, report and then safely
and humanely capture Burmese pythons.
“The Fish and Wildlife Foundation
of Florida is proud to partner with the
FWC and Everglades National Park on
this exciting conservation program,” said
Foundation Chairman Rodney Barreto.
“If you are interested in learning more
or want to help promote or sponsor the
2016 Python Challenge, we encour-
age you to visit the Python Challenge
Details about upcoming training
events, competition rules, registra-
tion, prizes and events will be posted at
PythonChallenge.org as they are final-
To report nonnative fish and wildlife,
call the FWC’s Invasive Species Hotline at
888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681), report
your sighting online at IveGot1.org or
download the IveGot1 smartphone app.
For more information on Burmese
pythons and other nonnative species in
Florida, go to MyFWC.com/nonnatives.
Pictured above is the skin from a 21-foot python, on loan for display by Dragon Backbone. They make purses, wallets, jewelry and
knives from the snake skin. From left is FWC Press Secretary Susan Smith, South Region Public Information Coordinator Carli Segelson,
Officer Bobby Dube, Regional Director Chuck Collins, Nina Segelson and Officer David Bingham.
photo by Alicia Wellman
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-
Friends of the Refuge (DDWS),
with J.N. “Ding” Darling National
Wildlife Refuge, announced its 9th
annual donation of teacher grants. Up
to $10,000 in grant awards are avail-
able to teachers in Lee, Charlotte,
Collier, Glades and Hendry counties this
school year for conservation education-
Teachers in the five-county area may
apply for grants up to $1,000 each to
purchase teaching aids, books and class-
room materials; fund new classroom sci-
ence projects; take field trips; or conduct
work projects in the community.
All schools are invited to submit envi-
ronmental education- or science-related
unit proposals by Saturday, October 31.
The approved proposals will be awarded
in November for projects to be completed
by May 2016.
continued on page 19
Pelican Elementary students learned about Catching The Wind: Designing Windmills for
their 2015 project funded by a ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society teacher grant
Fillet And Release Tourney Returns
Matanzas on the Bay on Fort Myers Beach is hosting the 11th annual Fillet
and Release Fishing Tournament on Saturday, September 12 to benefit
This year’s event anticipates more than 320 anglers to join the light tackle, inshore
fishing tournament with shotgun start at 7 a.m. and boats returning by 3 p.m. Eighty-
seven boats participated in the 2014 event, which raised more than $15,000 to ben-
efit Hope Hospice.
The weigh-in ceremony will take place at Matanzas on the Bay, where participants
can enter in a raffle to benefit Hope Hospice and, following the weigh-in, enjoy a
dinner and awards ceremony. Winners are determined by total weight of fish caught.
Eligible species include redfish and snook, and all fish will be released following weigh
in. The entry fee is $250 per team, with a maximum of four anglers per boat. For
more information, visit www.filletandrelease4hospice.com.
Anglers line up to weigh-in their catch during the 2014 Fillet and Release Fishing
Tournament hosted by Matanzas on the Bay.
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