DAVIE, Fla. — A Tennessee man and his family were the big winners in the annual Florida Python Challenge.
Paul Hobbs and his family members won the $10,000 grand prize when they caught 20 Burmese pythons, the Sun-Sentinel reported. All of the invasive snakes Hobbs caught were hatchlings, according to the newspaper.
Hobbs, his father Tom and 12-year-old son Dominic traveled 16 hours from Tennessee to participate in the sixth version of the Challenge, which began in 2013.
“It’s lifetime memories, very precious memories,” Paul Hobbs told the newspaper.
According to the FWC website, Burmese pythons are found primarily in and around the Everglades in South Florida, and the invasive species represents a threat to native wildlife.
This year’s challenge resulted in 209 snakes wrangled from 1,050 registered competitors, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Ronald Kigler was the runner-up this year with 14 pythons, WPTV reported. He won $7,500.
U.S. Army veteran Jeff Lince won the military award for the longest python captured. He caught a snake that measured 7 feet, 9.5 inches long. He won $1,000, according to the FWC.
Last year, more than 230 pythons were removed from the Everglades, according to WTVJ.
Matthew Concepcion, 19, was last year’s winner.
“Removing these invasive pythons is an important part of our efforts to protect the Everglades, and this competition allows people to get involved in Florida’s conservation efforts for one of the world’s most prized natural resources,” Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said in a statement. “I thank everyone involved in making the Florida Python Challenge a successful event year after year, and I congratulate the winners of this year’s competition.”
The Hobbs family will return next year.
“We’re still looking for the 20-footer,” Paul Hobbs told the Sun-Sentinel.