Gator hunting season kicks off in Florida

The statewide alligator hunting season kicked off on Saturday. Hunters with permits have from August 15 to November 1 to catch up to two alligators under Florida Fish and Wildlife regulations.

Last year, about 6,000 alligator hunting permits were granted. About 5,000 permits were expected to be distributed in 2015. Officials say no more permits are available.

Alligators must be longer than 18 inches to be caught, and hunting areas are restricted.

There are more than 1,000,000 wild alligators living in Florida. The purpose of the gator hunt is to regulate the population.

"Our busiest season is clearly the summer months. Temperature goes up. The alligators are more active. There's more movement," said John Paner, owner of Croc Encounters in Tampa. Paner applies for permits year-round to trap nuisance gators and bring them to his gator refuge.

"There are a lot of possibilities that something can go wrong when you're catching an alligator. If you've never really been around them, you're taking a very big risk," said Paner.

The fascination with gator hunting has grown in recent years with the popularity of reality television shows such as Swamp People and Gator Boys.

Florida wildlife officials strictly regulate the gator hunting season each year. For details on where hunting is allowed, visit http://myfwc.com/media/2556765/alligator_harvest_units.pdf 

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