New Winner Announced For State’s Python Challenge

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 $1,000 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, who won the competition for most snakes caught with 18, will keep his prize money. Russ will get $1,000 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 $1,000 for 14-foot-3-inch snake.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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