Champion snake hunter is in it to save Florida’s ecosystem

Southeast

(NewsNation) — This year’s Florida snake hunting champion bagged 28 snakes in 10 days, winning a $10,000 prize. 19-year-old Matthew Concepcion said he entered the competition because of his love for Florida.

“It’s all about our ecosystem,” he said. “I love Florida, I love the Everglades, I love to see it grow and these snakes are not letting that happen.”

Florida has long been battling Burmese pythons that are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem of the Everglades.

It’s difficult to tell how many of the invasive snakes are in the state because the snakes, which can grow to more than 15 feet long, are experts at camouflage. The predatory pythons have been known to eat fully grown deer and even alligators.

The heaviest python found in Florida weighed in at 215 pounds had 122 eggs in her belly.

The snakes are typically released into the Everglades by pet owners after they have become too large to handle.

Burmese pythons are no longer legal in Florida, and the snake hunt is just one of the efforts being made to remove them.

When it comes to hunting, Concepcion said there’s no secret other than putting in long hours and a little bit of luck. Before the hunt, he went three months without finding a single snake.

“God was on my side,” he said, when it came to winning the competition.

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