The annual statewide recreational alligator harvest is Aug. 15 – Nov. 1.

Alligators are a conservation success story in Florida. The state’s alligator population is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size and has been stable for many years.

“Before you apply for alligator hunt permits, be sure to coordinate with everyone you plan to hunt with, regarding where you want to hunt and which harvest weeks work best with everyone’s schedule,” said Steve Stiegler, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission's alligator program hunt coordinator. 

“The application process is a random drawing, so the more choices you make, the better your chances of getting drawn. You also can increase your odds of being drawn by choosing more areas during the fourth harvest week,” Stiegler said. “However, you shouldn’t apply for any areas you feel are too far away or during weeks you’re unable to hunt.”

And if you’re still undecided on where to hunt, check out harvest data from past seasons at MyFWC.com/Alligator under “Statewide Alligator Harvest Program.”

The application period for the phase I random drawing begins 10 a.m. May 17 and runs through May 27. More than 6,000 alligator harvest permits will be available. 

Permits allow the harvest of two alligators on a designated harvest unit or county. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by Aug. 15 and have a valid credit or debit card to apply. 

Submit applications to any county tax collector’s office, license agent (most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies) and at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Applicants must provide their credit card information when they apply. If changes to hunt choices or credit card information are needed, applicants can make updates until the application period closes.

License/permit costs 

The alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two hide validation CITES tags cost $272 for Florida residents, $22 for those with a Florida Resident Persons with Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License, and $1,022 for nonresidents. The cost for applicants who already have an alligator trapping license is $62.

Four permit sales phases are scheduled through June 27.

Within three days of an application period closing, applicants can expect to see an authorization hold on their credit card, verifying there is a sufficient balance to cover the cost of the permit. However, this does not mean they were awarded a permit. Once the credit card authorization process is complete, the lottery drawing will be held. All successful applicants will be charged, while those who were unsuccessful will have the authorization hold lifted from their credit cards.

The permit and tags should arrive in the mail within 6 weeks of payment. Trapping licenses are nontransferable. All sales are final, and no refunds will be made.

Go to MyFWC.com/Hunting and then “By Species" for more information on alligator hunting or the application.

Tony Young is a columnist for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.