Free Training Offered For Florida Python Challenge

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

 Oct. 28, 2015
If your idea of a good time is trudging through the South Florida swampland trying to capture huge reptiles with your bare hands, the 2016 Python Challenge may be right up your alley! This week, you’ll also read about a new public opinion poll that indicates a majority of Americans believe legal concealed-carry of firearms makes the country safer.

Florida Offers Training for Python-Catching Competitors
Have you ever thought that hunting and catching enormous snakes in the Florida swampland might be something you’d be interested in trying for recreation and fun?

Inarguably the thought might not be attractive to everyone, but in case it appeals to you, the Florida Wildlife Commission is offering free training for those who would like to participate in the 2016 Python Challenge ™ competition. Registration is now open for the Challenge. Register as a single participant for $25 and register your team of two- to five 5 participants for $75.

Absher's ONH 10-28-15 Participation-1
The 2016 Python Challenge helps reduce the population of the reptiles that can grow to a massive size.

The event, now in its fourth year, has sought to heighten public awareness about the invasive Burmese python species in South Florida, as well as to help reduce the population of the reptiles that can grow to a massive size.

FWC says training during October and November sessions includes an overview of the 2016 Python Challenge™ and helps teach participants how to identify, locate and safely, humanely capture Burmese pythons. Each training session begins with a classroom presentation followed by an outdoor hands-on session with live, wild-caught pythons.

There is no cost to attend the sessions, which last approximately two hours and are held in both the morning and afternoon. Python Challenge in-person training sessions are available to anyone who is interested — they are optional for competition participants.

However, all Python Challenge 2106 participants are required to take a free online training session before registering for the Python Removal competition, which begins at noon Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, and ends at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.

The grand prize is $5,000 for the team category and $3,500 for the individual category.

Gallup: Majority of Americans Support CCW
While the news may come as a disappointment to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and anti-gun politicians deciding on their next campaign platform, a recent poll on support for carrying a concealed weapon from one of the country’s most-respected public-opinion firms shows them solidly in the country’s minority.

The results of Gallup’s annual Crime Poll, released October 20, indicated a majority of Americans believe that increasing the number of law-abiding citizens who carry concealed handguns for personal and family protection makes the country a safer place for all Americans.

The poll asked: “Suppose more Americans were allowed to carry concealed weapons if they passed a criminal background check and training course. If more Americans carried concealed weapons, would the United States be safer or less safe?”

A total of 56 percent of the respondents indicated they believe if more Americans carried concealed weapons after passing a criminal background check and training course, the country would be safer, reported Frank Newport, director of the Gallup Poll.

Those in the majority included 82 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats — along with 74 percent of gun owners, 62 percent of men, and 50 percent of women.

Interestingly, the age group with the highest percentage of those believing in concealed carry was the youngest demographic. A total of 66 percent of those in the 18-to-29 age group believed carrying concealed handgun makes the country safer.

The poll was taken October 7-11 and surveyed 1,015 adults by phone across the U.S. It has a margin of error of 4 percent.

“Previous research shows that three in four Americans are opposed to banning handguns, and Americans in the past have overwhelmingly interpreted the Second Amendment as giving Americans the rights to own guns. Americans are inclined to believe that carrying properly permitted guns could make the country safer,” Newport wrote in his analysis.

Indiana Offer For Free Trailcam Use Proves Popular
Within a few days of requesting volunteers for its “Snapshot IN” free trailcam project to gather information on wildlife in the Hoosier State, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources filled all its openings for the program and quickly exhausted its stock of about 100 remote cameras.

Volunteers were required to have at least 10 acres and be willing to set up a provided trail camera on their property this fall. The DNR hoped to find between 20- and 100 volunteers, according to wildlife biologist Shawn Rossler, but about 300 persons contacted the agency to volunteer for the project within days of the announcement. Project registration closed due to camera availability, but Rossler said more equipment will be available in the future “if all goes well” with the project.

Volunteers cannot use attractants or baits during the study, including birdseed, compost, grill residue, or chemical attractants. Volunteers are requested to place the camera near a game trail or water source to capture animals in a place they would naturally congregate.

All materials will be loaned by the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife and must be returned in acceptable condition at the end of the sampling period. All photos and videos will be property of the state. At the end of the survey period, copies of photos and videos of interest will be provided to landowners.

“Gathering accurate data on the distribution and relative abundance of wildlife species statewide can be extremely challenging for biologists,” Rossler said. “Working with citizen scientists, the DNR hopes to understand how animals are using various land types in Indiana.”

Washington Agency Offering Female-Only Hunter Ed
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will offer a hunter education class for women and girls November 1 in Black Diamond. The class, the first of its kind offered by WDFW specifically for females, is a field skills evaluation for those who have previously completed the online hunter education course.

“We are seeing more women participating in hunting and shooting sports,” said Dave Whipple, hunter education division manager. “This class recognizes the trend, and will help female students make connections within the community of women hunters.”

The course will be led by female instructors. Participation will be limited to women and girls. Additional female-only courses are being planned for different regions of the state over the coming year, said Whipple.

Quote of the Week
“Mr. Bernard M. Baruch, the millionaire elder statesman, is fond of saying that there are two things a man cannot abide being kidded about: his prowess with the ladies and his ability to shoot quail.”

– Robert Ruark,
The Brave Quail, 1951

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at



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