May is here, and so is the start of the Phase I application period for applying for alligator and fall quota, special opportunity and national wildlife refuge hunt permits. Mark your calendar, set yourself an alarm, whatever you have to do to remind yourself – just don’t forget to get in all of your fall hunting permit applications in time for Phase I.
Alligator hunt permits
Since 1988, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has offered hunters the opportunity to take part in its annual statewide recreational alligator harvest that runs Aug. 15–Nov. 1. These special night hunts provide a hunting adventure unlike any other. Alligators are a conservation success story in Florida. The state’s alligator population is estimated at 1.3 million and has been stable for many years.
Phase I application period
The application period for the Phase I random drawing begins May 12 at 10 a.m. and runs through May 22. More than 6,000 alligator harvest permits will be available.
Hunters can submit their application for a permit that allows the harvest of two alligators on adesignated 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.
Applications may be submitted at 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 you change your mind on where you’d like to hunt, you are able to make updates to your hunt choices all the way up until the application period closes.
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.
Phase II and III application periods
Any permits remaining after the first phase will be offered during the Phase II random drawing May 26–June 5. Those who were awarded a permit in Phase I may not apply during Phase II. Remaining permits will be available in Phase III to anyone who did not draw a permit in either of the first two phases, and they may be applied for June 9-19.
Leftover application phase
If any permits remain after Phase III, there will be a fourth-phase issuance period beginning at 10 a.m. on June 22 until all permits are sold. Anyone may apply during Phase IV, even if they were awarded a permit in one of the earlier phases. Customers who are able to purchase additional permits will be charged $62, regardless of residency or disability.
What to expect if you get drawn
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.
Successful applicants should expect to receive their alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two CITES alligator tags in the mail within six weeks of payment. Alligator trapping licenses are nontransferable. All sales are final, and no refunds will be made.
For more information on alligator hunting or the application process, see the “2017 Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida” by going to “MyFWC.com/Hunting” and then click on “Alligator” under “By Species.”
National Wildlife Refuge hunts
There are also several fall hunts on five national wildlife refuges that you may apply for during the same Phase I application period of May 15–June 15. These National Wildlife Refuge hunts offer yet another unique and limited opportunity to hunt on well-managed habitat with healthy game populations and low hunting pressure. However, no guest permits are available for any of these hunts. And if you get drawn, you must pay for your permit by the claim deadline, or you forfeit it, and it’ll be available during the next application period which is first-come, first-served.
Just south of Tallahassee, you may apply for archery, general gun and mobility-impaired hunts on the 32,000-acre St. Marks. Each of these hunts cost $5 to apply for and if you get drawn, the permits are $27.50.
On Franklin County’s 11,400-acre St. Vincent Island, you can apply for primitive weapons hunts for the exotic and enormous sambar deer. It’s $5 to apply, and $37.50 to buy the permit should you get drawn.