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130 Alligators Killed in First Night of Gator Hunt

September 3, 1988

CLEWISTON, Fla. (AP) _ The first day of Florida’s first legal alligator hunt in 26 years netted about 130 gators across the state, state game officials report.

Thirty-eight of the huge reptiles were bagged in the Everglades and 36 were taken near Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, which is supervising the hunt, said Friday.

While some lucky hunters bagged animals as long as 9 feet, most of the 230 people granted hunting permits were disappointed after the first day of the monthlong gator season.

The hunters selected at random from among about 5,000 permit applicants set out at sunset Thursday with harpoons, nooses, crossbows - almost anything but a gun, which was forbidden.

David and Jerry Navin, two novice hunters, snaked through a Dade County canal in the darkness looking for the red-reflecting eyes that give the reptiles away at night. But the gators refused to play along.

″There’s a few here, but they’re not really doing what they’re supposed to,″ chuckled David Navin. ″They’re a little tougher than we thought.″

Farther north on Lake Okeechobee, another of the designated hunting areas, some gator pursuers fared better.

Thomas Alpern, 25, of New York City, the only northerner to get a permit, bagged a nine-footer despite worries he might not manage to kill the animal even if he captured it.

The meat and hide of a single alligator can fetch $300 to $500.

The alligator population in Florida has about doubled to an estimated 1 million since federal anti-poaching methods were adopted in 1970. Nearly 1,000 gators have been captured in experimental hunts since 1981.

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