Alligator hunters may be allowed to use handguns and pursue their prey 24 hours a day, under proposals intended to provide them with more flexibility in killing the most formidable inhabitant of Florida’s rivers, lakes, and swamps.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hear a report Dec. 6 on the alligator hunting program and whether to loosen restrictions on a hunt that the report says “has received tremendous national and international media attention and continues to be a model to other states.”
Harry Dutton, coordinator of Florida’s alligator management program, said the resumption of hunting in 1988 has had little impact on the state’s alligator population, currently numbering about 1.3 million.
“We consider the alligator population stable,” he said. “It’s held up very well.”
Under the handgun proposal, he said, hunters would not be permitted to just point a revolver at an alligator and fire away. Rather they would have to catch the animal first, using a harpoon, spear gun or other approved method. Once they get the alligator to their boat, they could use the handgun to dispatch it. The current approved method involves the use of what’s called a bang stick, a stick with one end that fires a bullet or shotgun shell upon making direct contact with the prey.