Florida

Alligator hunting season has begun. We know where they really are

“There’s a gator in the bushes, Lord, he’s calling my name/And a saying ‘come on, boy, you better make it back home again’”

Jacksonville’s Molly Hatchet, “Gator Country” (1978).

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Florida’s official six-week alligator hunting season began Thursday — running through Nov. 1.

Here’s what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants would-be hunters to know about its Statewide Alligator Harvest Program:

You’ll need a limited entry permit to participate in the popular harvesting program. A Florida hunting or fishing license is not required to participate in the statewide alligator hunt. But you are limited to bagging to gators and the permit will note where and when you can harvest the reptiles and at what time. (It’s a night thing, 5 p.m. through 10 a.m.)

According to the wildlife commission, the statewide alligator hunt is one of FWC’s most popular limited entry hunts. More than 10,000 people will apply for about 6,000 permits.

What you want to know is, Where can I find one of these gators to harvest?

Your permit will tell you of established sites “with sustainable harvest quotas to provide recreational opportunities for residents and non-residents,” according to the FWC.

But off the record, this is Florida. Alligators are everywhere.

Maybe in your significant other’s yoga pants.

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Maybe in the canal by your house (almost assuredly in the canal by your house, in fact.

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Maybe in the family pool. This is a popular splashing site for the toothy beasts.

Gator pool light
Does this alligator want the pool light on to see better during its morning dip in a Boca Raton family’s backyard pool on Feb. 5, 2018? Boca Raton Police Services Department

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Alligator from swimming pool in Tampa
Alligator in Temple Terrace in a residential swimming pool PROVIDED PHOTO

Gators might come a-callin’ in your neighborhood after a stroll on your driveway. And they can get around your chain-link fence, too.

imagejpeg_0.jpg
An alligator, estimated to be 11 feet and 600 pounds, walks to the driveway of a home in the Northwest 13th Street and 37th Avenue neighborhood of Miami on April 19, 2019. Miami Fire Rescue

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And maybe even at your favorite state park’s fishing hole.

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Other times, just listen for the rustling in the brush. Sometimes it’s croc vs. croc raising a ruckus.

croc.jpg
A video captured by a Florida Keys eco tour boat captain shows a large American crocodile confronting a smaller croc basking on a seawall behind a house in Islamorada. American crocs have become more numerous. Screen grab

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Gator yard wrangle
Trappers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrangle an 8-foot alligator from the bottom of a Boca Raton family’s backyard pool. Boca Raton Police Services Department
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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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