By Tony Young
Since 1988, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its predecessor, the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, have offered hunters the opportunity to take part in their annual statewide recreational alligator harvest, which always runs Aug. 15 – Nov. 1. Alligators are a conservation success story in Florida. The state’s alligator population is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size and has been stable for many years.
“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.
“The application process is a random drawing, so the more choices you make, the better your chances of getting drawn. You also can increase your odds of being drawn by choosing more areas during the fourth harvest week,” Stiegler said. “However, you shouldn’t apply for any areas you feel are too far away or during weeks you’re unable to hunt.”
And if you’re still undecided on where to hunt, check out harvest data from past seasons at MyFWC.com/Alligator under “Statewide Alligator Harvest Program.”
Phase I application period
The application period for the phase I random drawing begins May 17 at 10 a.m. and runs through May 27. More than 6,000 alligator harvest permits will be available.
Hunters may submit their application for a permit that allows the harvest of two alligators on a designated harvest unit or county. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by Aug. 15 and have a valid credit or debit card to apply.
Applications can be submitted at any county tax collector’s office, license agent (most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies) and at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Applicants must provide their credit card information when they apply. If changes to hunt choices or credit card information are needed, applicants can make updates until the application period closes.
The alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two hide validation CITES tags cost $272 for Florida residents, $22 for those with a Florida Resident Persons with Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License, and $1,022 for nonresidents. The cost for applicants who already have an alligator trapping license is $62.
Phase II and III application periods
Any permits remaining after the first phase will be offered during the phase II application period May 31 – June 10. Those who were awarded a permit in phase I may not apply during phase II. Remaining permits will be available in phase III to anyone who did not draw a permit in either of the first two phases, and they may be applied for June 14-24.
Leftover application phase
If any permits remain after phase III, there will be a fourth-phase issuance period beginning at 10 a.m. on June 27 until all permits are sold. Anyone may apply during phase IV, even if they were awarded a permit in one of the earlier phases. Hunters who get to purchase additional permits will be charged $62, regardless of residency or disability.
What to expect if you get drawn
Within three days of an application period closing, applicants can expect to see an authorization hold on their credit card, verifying there is a sufficient balance to cover the cost of the permit. However, this does not mean they were awarded a permit. Once the credit card authorization process is complete, the lottery drawing will be held. All successful applicants will be charged, while those who were unsuccessful will have the authorization hold lifted from their credit cards.
Successful applicants should expect to receive their alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two CITES alligator tags in the mail within six weeks of payment. Alligator trapping licenses are nontransferable. All sales are final, and no refunds will be made.
For more information on alligator hunting or the application process, see the “Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida” by going to MyFWC.com/Hunting and then “By Species.”