Florida wildlife officials eye expanding hours for gator hunting

Final approval of around-the-clock alligator hunting is set to go before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission when it meets next month in Gainesville. 

Alligator hunting rules are part of the agenda on the first day of the two-day meeting, which will start May 3. The commission previously gave support to the hunting change on March 2. 

Commission staff members argued the change in hours – from between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 24 hours during the hunting season – should help hunters better schedule trips and potentially allow more young and senior hunters to participate, as they might be more comfortable hunting during the day. 

In addition to the hours, the commission is expected to give final approval to allowing alligator hunters to use pre-charged pneumatic air bows with tethered lines. The state already allows a number of methods involving tethered lines, including crossbows, bows, snatch hooks, and harpoons. 

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Airbows, which are charged with an external high compression source to propel arrows, were not commercially available the last time the state updated its alligator harvest methods. 

Also, during the two-day meeting, commissioners are expected to consider new rules to address the impact of overfishing of cobia.