A Burmese python is displayed at the kick-off ceremonies in Davie, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 for the 2013 "Python Challenge" organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nearly 800 people have signed up to hunt Burmese pythons on public lands in Florida. Experts say the invasive species is decimating native wildlife in the Florida Everglades. For the first time, the public is joining licensed hunters in the search for the snakes. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Associated Press Release
MIAMI (AP) -- There's a new winning snake in the state's "Python Challenge."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Sunday that Blake Russ of Fruitland Park should have won $1,500 for bagging the longest Burmese python. Russ competed with hunters holding special permits for harvesting pythons.
Ruben Ramirez of Miami was given the prize Saturday for a snake more than 10 feet long. Wildlife officials say Ramirez will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,500 of his own for a snake more than 11 feet long.
University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the mix-up was his mistake. Unlike other snakes killed in the hunt, Russ' snake was released with a tracking device.
Among competitors without the python permits, Paul Shannon of Lehigh Acres won $1,500 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.