Now Is The Time To Go On A "Gator Hunt"


Published: July - 2006

Florida is usually in the news for its beaches and bouts with hurricanes, but lately it's been in the national limelight for a rash of alligator attacks. In one week this spring, three people were killed by `gators in Florida. There are lots of reasons why this happened, but the most significant one is the population of this species is burgeoning. Florida is home to an estimated one million alligators, and that may well be a conservative number. Under-prescription of alligator permits and underharvesting for the last several years have contributed to the population growth. And that has led to some good and bad developments.

The good news is, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has made it easier to get multiple permits this year, and it has expanded the hunting season by six weeks. The bad news is, all 4,406 permits issued this year sold in June on a first-come first-served basis within four hours!

But hold the phone. You can still get in on one of these hunts. You see, many of those permits were picked up by guides, who previously had trouble getting more than two or three licenses for the statewide hunt. This year, more than 60 people bought more than five permits each. Each permit is good for two alligators, which may be taken by different individuals as long as they hunt with the permitee. One guide is known to have picked up 95 permits and that will allow him to host close to 200 hunters. You can bet guides are going to be looking for more alligator hunting clients this year, which is sure to mean more - and perhaps cheaper - opportunities for out-of-staters.

The hunts will take place during the statewide alligator hunt, which was greatly expanded this year to run from August 15 to November 1. Hunts can take place on public waters (public land), or on private land, with the latter tending to be the pricier of the two. Landowners in Florida, you see, receive permits from the Commission based on the........(continued)

 
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