TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A set of proposed updates to Florida’s statewide gator hunting season have been approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Starting this month, daily hunting has been expanded by seven hours, and new types of weapons and ammo are allowed for bringing in gator catches.

Now, gator hunting will be allowed 24 hours a day in most areas where alligator hunting is permitted. Hunters with proper licenses to trap and harvest alligators will be able to have “more flexibility when scheduling hunting trips,” according to FWC.

Additionally, FWC will now allow hunters to use precharged pneumatic airbows as long as the arrows are attached to restraining lines. The updated hunting guidelines will be offered at 128 alligator managing units, or AMUs. There are 65 countywide AMUs and 63 specific ones, according to FWC. The agency plans to issue more than 7,300 harvest permits through three random drawings, and a leftover phase for hunters.

To apply for alligator harvest permits in 2022, there are four application phases, starting at 10 a.m. EST for each phase.

The dates to apply for alligator harvest permits this year are below.

  • Phase I Applications: May 6 – 16
  • Phase II Applications: May 20 – 30
  • Phase III Applications: June 3 – 13
  • Phase IV Leftovers: June 16 – until filled or Oct. 14 

Anyone aged 18 or older, or who will be by August 15, may apply for alligator harvest permits. Applications can be submitted online or in person. FWC has previously called alligators “a conservation success story in Florida,” with the reptile originally on the Federal Endangered Species List in 1967.

Recent data about Florida alligator hunting showed roughly 8,200 alligators were harvested in 2020. Data from FWC said 80.1% of the gators harvested were male. While the American Alligator is protected by the Endangered Species Act, the state has managed alligator populations through its harvest program and been nationally recognized for those efforts since 1988.

There are still some areas with restricted access for alligator hunting. FWC said those locations will likely still keep their restricted hours. There are about 1.3 million gators in Florida. FWC said management efforts in the state have helped keep the population stable and it remains healthy.