So let me get this straight.
You find an enormous Burmese python slithering in one of Florida’s wetlands. Bravely, you confront the car-lengthed reptile, and using the guidelines provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, you opt to skip the “hand-capture” method, and go right for the “humane euthanasia” instruction, which involves a fatal blow or bullet to the head.
Congratulations! You now have become one of those rare Floridians who has played a role in dealing with one of the state’s most vexing invasive species.
And if your snake kill happened to be on one of the state’s 22 managed lands, you’re on your way to being a potential prize winner in the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Python Pickup Program.
“Anyone can participate, and people who submit proof of python with location of removal will be entered into a monthly drawing as well as a grand prize drawing in 2018,” the FWC website says.
Better get to submitting that proof. No need to bring the snake in.
Just snap a couple of photos of the dead snake, showing evidence of how it was killed, and most importantly, that it wasn’t some roadkill you stumbled on.
(You don’t get credit for finding roadkill.)
Then send an email to Pythons@MyFWC.com with “Python Pickup” in the subject line and photo attachments of the dead snake and the proof of the snake’s location through GPS.
If you’re not up for killing the snake, you can grab the live snake, put it in a bag and turn it in to an FWC office.
“Live pythons should be double bagged and placed into a secure container marked ‘dangerous reptiles,’” the instructions say.
OK, now it’s time for your reward.
“You will receive a T-shirt after your first proof of python submission has been accepted,” the instructions read.
Wait a second. All this rare success and follow-through for a lousy T-shirt. We were expecting something a little more grand here. At least a Red Lobster gift card. A Cross pen with the words “Snake Killer” on it. Something along those lines.
Finding and killing a Burmese python is the nature equivalent of winning the lottery. They’re very good at hiding and existing in places where humans can’t find them.
Beating the odds for a T-shirt seems like a severe case of under-gifting. After all, getting a T-shirt is the adult equivalent of the participation trophy that kids get for youth sports.
People who go to rock concerts get T-shirts. People who go on snake hunts, and actually catch snakes, need to get something better.
You’ve just either killed, or manhandled, a monster snake, and you get the same thing that somebody does for walking the route of a 5K fun run?
Maybe give T-shirts to all the hunters who don’t catch a snake. That sounds more fitting.
But wait. I’m not done reading the fine print on the Python Pickup Program prizes. There’s more.
“For each proof of python submitted, you will gain one entry into the current monthly prize drawing as well as the grand prize drawing,” it reads. “On the last Friday of each month, 2-3 raffle tickets will be drawn for the monthly prizes.”
OK, a grand prize of a lifetime Florida hunting and fishing license to one person. That’s something.
And monthly prizes to others. Now we’re talking. Like what?
A weekend at The Breakers hotel? Dinner for two at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach? VIP passes to the Daytona 500?
Nope. If you’re a lucky winner in the monthly prize drawing, you can get a 32-ounce stainless steel coffee mug with the Python Pickup Program logo on it.
To match the logo on your T-shirt.
There has to be something better than a mug and T-shirt, right?
Yes, you might get a $100 gasoline card, a backpack, a GPS device, a GoPro camera, or a storage locker.
Oh yeah, and in the lucky drawing, you can also win another Python Pickup Program T-shirt.
Or a 40-inch hook for catching snakes, which I guess is an incentive for you go back out there and look for more snakes.
After all, you can never have too many T-shirts.