The Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission's limited annual alligator hunt is one of the unique hunting experiences in North America. It is also an experience that hunters could not legally enjoy until 1988, the year the limited harvest of this now ubiquitous reptile became legal.
In the 1960s, the number of alligators in Florida was on a downward spiral. High demand for its hide combined with weak laws for protection and an active group of poachers, led to the species to the brink of extinction. Only after the alligator received protection under the Lacey and Endangered Species Acts did the reptile receive the protection it needed.
The alligatorís response was a huge success story. Free from hunting pressure, the species responded by proliferating to the point that it was removed from the Endangered species list. By 1988, the number of alligators reached such high numbers the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission opened a limited and tightly controlled harvesting season.
To take alligators in Florida, you must be 18 years of age or older and have an alligator harvest permit. To obtain a permit for the annual September harvest, you must submit an application. It must be received by 5 p.m. on June 1. Applications are available from the Commission regional offices. Each year the Commission receives far more applications that it awards. To give everyone an equal chance, a random drawing is used to determine who receives a permit. Trappers who receive a permit to take up to five alligators from a site assigned to them by the Commission. When applying for a permit, you can select up to five areas in which you want to hunt if you receive permit.
Those selected must purchase an alligator trapping license. For Florida residents the fee is $250.00. For non-residents the fee is $1,000. You can also purchase a $50 alligator-trapping agent license for individuals that will be assisting you (and you will need at least one assistant).
Although no longer required of permit holders, the Commission does offer a three-hour training and orientation program for those who have never taken an alligator before. It is highly recommended that you take this course.
Alligator Hunting: A One of a Kind Experience - by Kris Thoemke
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