Gator season in the Sunshine State is approaching, and so is the time to apply for permits.
Hunters have been able to harvest Florida’s alligators since 1988 to help keep the state's population stable. There are currently around 1.3 million of the reptiles in the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Starting May 17, Florida residents submit permit applications for FWC’s recreational Statewide Alligator Hunt, which runs from Aug. 15 to Nov. 1.
FWC will issue 6,000 permits in three separate phases during a random drawing of applicants, who must be 18 years old by Aug. 15 to apply.
FWC estimates 45 permits will be available for alligator hunting in Citrus County, not including the 30 for Lake Rousseau and two for the Withlacoochee River.
Each permit, which designates hunting dates and locations, includes a pair of CITES tags that allow the harvest of two alligators.
Applicants can submit for FWC’s first round of permits between May 17 and 27; its second round between May 31 and June 10; and its third round between June 14 and 24.
To apply online, visit gooutdoorsflorida.com.
Applications can also be submitted to the county tax collectors’ office and retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies.
For more information on FWC’s permitting process and guidelines on how to hunt alligators, visit FWC at tinyurl.com/yxdhv3e3 or call the agency at 850-488-3831.
After drawing applications in the days following each round, FWC will mail out the permits and Alligator Trapping Licenses, which are required for those wanting to hunt.
People who are riding with an alligator trapper but aren’t participating in the hunt don’t need to be licensed, according to FWC.
Florida residents must pay $272 for a permit and alligator trapping license; non-state residents are charged $1,022; and state residents with a Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License pay $22.
Those are who already have a trapping license have a cost of $62.
For the best chance of having a permit issued, try for multiple locations during the fourth week of the season, but be careful to not apply for areas that are too far or during conflicting times.
“Before you apply for alligator hunt permits, be sure to coordinate with everyone you plan to hunt with, regarding where you want to hunt and which harvest weeks work best with everyone’s schedule,” said Steve Stiegler, FWC’s alligator program hunt coordinator.
Not sure where to hunt?
Visit tinyurl.com/yyfvg89y to check out FWC’s records of alligator harvests dating back to 2000, showing where and how many alligators were hunted and what their average sizes were.
According to FWC’s data, there were 46 alligators harvested in Citrus County in 2017 at an average length of 7 feet, 8 inches.