Gator Hunting Anyone?

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will begin accepting applications May 1 from hunters who want to test their prowess in pursuit of alligators.

Applications will be available at all FWC regional offices, and Internet users can download applications from the agency’s Alligator Management Program Web site at wld.fwc.state.fl.us/gators/public.htm.

Harry Dutton, head of the FWC’s Alligator Management Section, said everyone who submitted applications last year should receive this year’s application in the mail, even if they weren’t drawn for the hunt.

“Last year’s applicants whose addresses have changed, however, during the past year, or who haven’t received a 2002 application by April 25, should contact an FWC office or download a copy of the application from the Alligator Management Program Web site.”

The FWC will process applications and issue permits under new procedures this year in an effort to speed up notification of hunters and issuance of permits and tags.

This year, each applicant must submit only one completed current-year alligator harvest permit/alligator trapping license application and:

  • either a copy of his alligator trapping license valid through Oct. 8 or fee payment for an alligator trapping license ($250 for residents or $1,000 for nonresidents), and
  • fee payment for two CITES tags ($20 total).

“We will accept only complete application packages that arrive at the address on the application after 8 a.m. on May 1,” Dutton said. “Any applications received prior to that date will be returned.”

The FWC will not accept multiple applications that arrive in one envelope, although it will accept multiple envelopes that are mailed together -- in express mailers, for instance.

Application packages will be selected randomly on a daily basis after May 1 until all available permits are issued. Selected applicants will receive harvest permits for their preferred available harvest units and harvest periods. When no harvest permits are available for any of the applicant's choices, the FWC will return his fees. Applicants can check their selection status on the Commission's Alligator Management Program Web site.

Permittees will be allowed to take two alligators each during their hunts.

The FWC strongly encourages permit holders to attend a three-hour training and orientation program that will take place throughout the state during July and August. The agency will notify them of dates and locations.

Permittees are allowed to have assistants. Assistants must purchase a $50 non-transferable alligator trapping-agent's license or be a licensed alligator trapper. Assistants may hunt only in the presence of the permittee.

To be eligible for a permit, applicants must be at least 18 years old by Sept. 1. Anyone convicted of violating wildlife laws relating to alligator trapping within the past five years or who have violated laws relating to endangered crocodilians within the past 10 years is ineligible to take part in the hunt.