LAKE MARY, Fla. - Monday marked the first day of alligator hunting season in Florida. The 10-week season that runs from August 15 to November 1 allows for 24-hour hunting for the first time.
Gator hunting season is Kevin Brotz’s favorite time of year. His company Get Bit Outdoors takes people on year-round wildlife hunts, including the state’s highly regulated gator hunt.
"It’s a positive for everybody," said Kevin Brotz. "They give out a certain number of tags per area, per lake, per county, and you have to have that magical tag in order to harvest a gator."
Not every applicant gets a permit either. The FWC only issues about 7,000 permits out of the tens of thousands who apply. Each permit only allows for the harvesting of two gators.
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"If you are awarded a permit, it comes with two tags. That’s like winning the lottery," said Brotz. "I think they were 20,000 applicants last year for about 7,000 tags issued."
There are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in the state of Florida. Brotz says the hunt helps manage the gator population by preventing overpopulation, disease, and predation. At the end of the day, for hunters like Brotz and his kids, the experience of the hunt is what it’s all about.
"It’s not about the animal. It’s watching their face light up for that kid with their father and mother experiencing the hunt of a lifetime and knowing that they’re going to remember that forever," said Brotz.
Permitted hunters in Florida will now be able to hunt alligators 24 hours a day during the state's 2022 alligator harvest program and use pre-charged airbows. The changes were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's meeting in May. The new rules increase hunting hours from 17 hours to 24 hours each day in most areas.