FL Gator Hunt Creates Market For Meat

LABELLE, Fla. — Thousands of hunters are plying Florida waters every night this time of year, searching the swamps for a prize alligator to take during the state's annual 11-week public hunt.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued nearly 6,000 permits to the public this year, with each permit allowing a hunter to take two alligators from an assigned waterway. Private hunts on farms and managed lands occur year-round, but between now and Nov. 1 the public gets its chance at gator glory.

Driven by TV reality shows like "Swamp People" and "Gator Boys" — which feature Louisiana alligator hunters and nuisance trappers in the Miami area — the sport has grown four-fold in the last decade, from 2,164 hunters in 2002 to 8,103 in 2011. The popularity of such shows has boosted the number of hunters as well as increased demand for alligator products and meat.

To read the rest of the story, please go to: The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press