Special gator hunting permits put on hold in Florida

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Alligator by Seán Kinane/WMNF News.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Tuesday held off on approving a small number of special-use permits for alligator hunters.

Commission staff members proposed holding a random drawing for five special permits that would provide “greater flexibility” next season.

But commission member Gary Nicklaus said during a meeting in Orlando that it’s already “pretty difficult” to get alligator permits.

Under current rules, hunters are restricted during the season to a single area — known as an alligator management unit — and can only hunt during one of the first four weeks of the season, which runs from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1.

The proposal would let the five people hunt throughout the season in any management unit, on public wetlands where access is allowed or on private land.

Brooke Talley, of the commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, said the intent of the special drawing is to keep “the number of permittees small, to five, so as not to negatively impact the quality of the traditional hunt.”

The five hunters would still be limited to two alligators each, the current limit.

The proposal would allow people to submit an unlimited number of applications for chances at one of the five special-use permits.

Each application would cost $5. Floridians who receive the special-use permits would have to pay a $250 fee. Non-Floridians would have to pay a $750 fee.

Nicklaus suggested lowering the fees, particularly for out-of-state hunters, to “get as much participation as we can.”

Florida has an estimated 1.3 million alligators according to the commission.

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