Alligator Hunting Season - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Alligator Hunting Season

Today is the first day you can snag licenses for this year's alligator hunting season but Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and some local hunting experts say one thing is different this year: more interest from hunters.

Ten O'clock News Reporter John Bachman shows why the extra interest might just come from the recent jump in the number of reported gator attacks.

"This is the typical rig we use for shooting gators."

Hunting expert Ken Bennis already has his sights set on alligator season, but it doesn't start for two months. He's a hunting guide and even works on a hunting show but he's practicing taking target practice now anticipating a busy season.

"I'm getting a lot more requests and people are not really worried about the size they just want to go out and get the biggest gator they can."

Like this one taken last year, measuring 12 and a half feet. Normally this time of year he's says he has one or two requests for hunts. This year he has 12 from all over the country.

"Michigan, Connecticut, both those areas. Northern states."

One of the reasons he says: backlash from several recently reported alligator attacks.

"I think with all the TV coverage from the gators attacking people down here that people are showing more of interest. And maybe they've never done this. It's a unique hunt something that's very usual."

Bennis says the extra hunters are needed. He was out in Lake Okeechobee a few days ago.

"All over the lake there was gators more gators than I've ever seen. Too many gators are getting up in the neighborhoods. You get a gator, seven, eight foot. It's a danger to children and a danger to dogs."

He also says the last two years of hurricanes have kept a lot of hunters away. So he sees all the interest this year as a positive sign for the sport. Bennis even let us try out his hunting bow but he warns hunting alligators should be done with a guide or someone with a lot of experience.

"You have to know what you are doing. You can get hurt doing this."

Or he says there could be even more reported alligator attacks during the hunting season. Getting an alligator hunting permit costs $252 for people in Florida. But non-Florida residents have to pay more. A lot more. Almost 4-times more. They must pay about $1,000.

FWC offers and strongly suggests a three-hour training program before anyone tries to track down gators. Now, if a gator shows up in your back yard - even if you have a permit - you cannot trap or kill it. The Florida hunting permit specifically says where you can hunt for gators and you can only trap or kill them in that designated area.

Each permit allows for two alligators. Hunting season starts August 15th and ends November 1st.  More information here.

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