Florida, the sunshine state teeming with alligators. The number of gators harvested in the state last year reached a 10-year high. In 2011, 8,103 gators were taken, well up above the number just a decade ago when gator hunters harvested 2,552 of the reptiles.

Media Relations Coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Tony Young said the larger number is directly related to the number of permits the commission issues. Last year, the highest number of permits were issued (6,200 permits). Each permit allows for the harvest of two alligators maximum. The commission was able to issue more permits because the species has been rebounding for several decades and continues to do so with the management of the FWC, according to Young. Most of the alligators are harvested from all corners of Lake Okeechobee every year.

Part of the reason the hunt has garnered so much in the past decade can also be attributed to reality TV shows’ influence on gator hunters. Young said he has met many first-time gator hunters who became interested in the sport through shows such as Swamp People and Gator Boys. A multi-year drought that caused some lakes to dry up decreased the number of gators the FWC counted during their annual spring night count. Therefore, gator hunters in 2012 likely will not experience success like those of 2011. This year, there were 500 less permits issued (a total of 5,700).

To find out more about alligator hunting in Florida, visit MyFWC.com.

Image from Tim Donovan/FWC via the flickr Creative Commons

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