Permits Still Available to Stalk Prehistoric Predator

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has more than 300 permits remaining for hunters who want to take on the challenge of bagging huge reptiles that can clamp down 80 teeth with a ton of pressure per square inch.

Alligators look much like their reptilian ancestors looked 70 million years ago and are fair game for selected hunters in the FWC’s September/October public waters alligator harvest.

Participants say taking the powerful animals with harpoons, gigs or hooks may be the most extreme hunting experience in America. It is also one of the most tightly regulated.

“Hunters should apply soon, because we’re issuing permits every day, and when they’re gone, that’s it for a whole year,” said Harry Dutton, leader of FWC’s Alligator Management Section. “There is no application deadline, however, you should submit your application at least two weeks prior to the start of your harvest period. It takes at least two weeks to process your application.”

The FWC expanded the alligator hunt this year to allow hunting in areas that were previously off-limits, Dutton said. Countywide alligator management units where established, which made 750 additional permits available.

“Countywide permits should be especially appealing to private landowners who would like to harvest alligators on their property but who have not been able to qualify for the Private Lands Alligator Management Program,” Dutton said.

A person permitted for a countywide harvest unit will be allowed to take two alligators from any lands that they could legally access in the specified county, including public and private lands and waters, but excluding specific water bodies established as Alligator Management Units, private wetlands permitted for alligator management and other protected public properties.

Alligator harvest permits enable hunters to take two alligators each. To be eligible for a permit, applicants must be at least 18 years old by Sept. 1 and must not have been convicted of violating wildlife laws relating to alligator trapping within the past five years nor laws relating to endangered crocodilians within the past 10 years.

“At this date, if you would like to license agents to assist you with your hunt, you should submit the agent license applications with your harvest permit application.” Dutton said.

Alligator harvest applications and alligator trapping agent licenses are available at all FWC regional offices and on the Alligator section of the FWC Web site at wildflorida.org/gators/. The site also shows which areas still have permits available.

Applicants can check their selection status daily after 5 p.m. on the Web site. People who do not receive a permit through the selection process will have their fees returned.

“You won’t find a hunting experience like this anywhere else,” Dutton said.