Florida

It’s alligator hunting season in Florida. Here’s everything you need to know

Alligator hunting season in Florida runs from Aug. 15 to the morning of Nov. 1.
Alligator hunting season in Florida runs from Aug. 15 to the morning of Nov. 1. Creative Commons

Alligator hunting season permits sold out in Florida, as usual.

The season, which began Tuesday and runs until the morning of Nov. 1, makes 5,000 alligator hunting permits available each year to those 18 and older. Each permit allows its holder to hunt two alligators for the season, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Every year, more than 10,000 people apply from all over the state, with the exception of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, which do not participate.

Video from a police body cam captures the moment an officer comes across an alligator at the front door of a Boynton Beach home on July 10, 2017.

Some permits are specific to a county, allowing the holder to hunt gators only within that county’s borders in public bodies of water. The holder can hunt in private areas as well, as long as they have permission from the landowner.

Other permits are specific to a single body of water, such as within certain rivers and lakes in the Everglades.

Hunting can only take place in the evenings and overnight, between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. Hunters are allowed to scout areas during the day, but weaponry must be disassembled and stowed away, or not in the area at all.

Weapons you can legally use to kill alligators in Florida are bows and crossbows, gigs, harpoons, spears and spearguns. The only firearm legal to use to kill a gator is a bang stick, and even then can only be used if the gator is attached to a restraining line, according to the FWC.

An alligator hunting license costs $272 for Florida residents and $1,022 for non-residents in 2017, the FWC website says. Application dates started on May 12. Hunting licenses do not require any safety training, though FWC does provide free classes and hunters are “strongly encouraged” to attend.

If you know someone who has an alligator hunting license this year and you want to tag along on the hunt, make sure you get a $52 alligator trapping agent license, unless you’re under the age of 16.

Alligator hunting season was established in 1988 in Florida, according to the FWC. In addition to helping with population control of the 1.3 million alligators that call Florida home, gator hunting was established partially due to widespread public demand.

“These special night hunts provide a thrilling, hands-on hunting adventure. Also, alligator meat is a delicious and healthy choice and the hide can be tanned and made into leather products,” the FWC alligator hunting guide reads. “The purpose of reinstating alligator hunting was to provide the public with a much-desired opportunity to hunt alligators in Florida.”

A video posted on the internet shows a gigantic male alligator known as "Snaggletooth" calmly strolling down a road behind Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery.

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