Wildlife officials approved a plan by a South Florida refuge to hold an alligator hunt, said a manager at the park.
“This will be the first non-commercial alligator on a national refuge, as far I know ever,” said Rolf Olsen, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge’s assistant manager.
Olfsen said the plan still has a few processes it has to go through, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it complies with state regulations.
"What we were checking for is that it is in compliance with the dates, the times and the harvesting methods," said FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson. "We had to make sure it was in line with state regulations."
The plan is for 11 hunters to harvest up to 22 alligators. Each is allowed to hunt two gators.
Olfsen said that the hunt may happen as early as this August. It would occur during two different periods set by the state. Two weekends in August and then every weekend in October.
But the general alligator population at the refuge will not be impacted by the hunt. Olfsen said the wildlife refuge were established by hunters, and that has been a part of the refuege’s mandate from the beginning. But he added that if there was research to indicate that hunting gators was a threat to the whole population of alligators at the refuge, then it wouldn't happen.
There were some adjustments made to the plan over time.
“One of them, we kept he hours much more restricted. We are going to have hunting one hour before sunset, and they will have to be done hunting before sunrise,” he said. “It’s going to be in the water from a boat … They have to bring their own boats.”
Hunters will need to get two permits from the FWC, and during the hunts, the refuge will have its own law enforcement officers doing patrols. Also, state wildlife officers will be patrolling and hunters will have to tag their catch as soon as they get it. And there will be only one entry and exit place.