FAQs: Alligator Management

(Updated June 25, 2008)

How does the FWC manage the alligator population in Florida?

The FWC has a very proactive management strategy for alligator populations that includes harvest quotas to maintain alligator populations within 25 percent of levels present in 1988.

What are the guidelines for alligator hunting?

Alligator hunting permits are issued each year by the FWC on a first-come, first-served basis. In 2008, 5,125 permits were issued for the hunting season, Aug. 15 to Nov. 1. Each permit costs $271.50 for Florida residents and $1,021.50 for nonresidents. Each permit holder receives two tags, allowing the hunter to take two alligators. The FWC began experimental alligator hunts in the 1980s, and over the past eight years, approximately 70 percent of the harvest tags issued have been filled.

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Is it true that anti-hunting activists purchase two-thirds of the alligator hunting permits each year?

No, this is not true. For example in 2007, 82 percent of alligator tags were issued to hunters who filled at least one of their two allotted tags. Even if they had been able to purchase two-thirds of the permits, it would require a financial commitment of approximately $1 million, as well as the filing of false alligator harvest report forms. Over the 20-year history of its Alligator Management Program, the FWC has seen no indication this has occurred.

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What are some things people can do to prevent negative encounters with alligators?

First, wildlife should never be fed by humans because it lowers their inhibitions to human contact and keeps them from following their natural habits of seeking food for themselves. It is also illegal to feed alligators.

Second, it is never safe to enter water where large alligators are present. The FWC recommends swimming only in posted areas and not in waters inhabited by alligators. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn, so it's best to swim during daylight hours.

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Are alligators posing a new threat to humans?

The first documented severe alligator bite on a human occurred in 1948. It is important to remember that alligators are large, top-level predators capable of inflicting severe bites on humans, even causing death. That's why it is so important for people to use common sense when dealing with this species.

Human encounters with alligators are increasing because Florida's human population is growing, and many residents seek waterfront homes, and water-related recreational activities are very popular. As more people are drawn to the water, more alligator-human interactions can occur, creating a greater potential for conflict. However, alligators seldom bite people, and fatalities from such occurrences are extremely rare.

Florida is averaging about seven unprovoked bites per year serious enough to require special medical treatment. The frequency of these serious bites is increasing at a rate of about 3 percent each year or one additional bite every 4-5 years. However, the likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 2.4 million.

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What is a nuisance alligator?

An alligator is considered a nuisance when it is at least 4 feet in length and poses a threat to people or their pets or property.

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What is the FWC's nuisance alligator program?

This program is unrelated to alligator hunting. The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program contracts with nuisance alligator trappers. Approximately 40 private trappers are contracted to remove specific nuisance alligators. Individuals may call the toll-free number, 1-866- FWC-GATOR (392-4286) to submit complaints regarding nuisance alligators. The FWC will evaluate the complaint and determine if the alligator should be removed by a licensed nuisance alligator trapper.

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How many alligator complaints does the FWC receive each year?

In 2007, the FWC received 13,000 nuisance alligator complaints. Nuisance alligator trappers were issued 11,000 permits, and 10,000 nuisance alligators were removed.

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Where can I find more information?

Further information is online at MyFWC.com/gators.

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FWC Facts:
The alligator snapping turtle, found in river systems from Florida to Texas, is the largest freshwater turtle in North America.

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