Gator Hunters Stuck In The Mud
Gator season starts officially the evening of August 15. However, there won't be much hunting on North Central Florida lakes. Water levels are at an all-time low- even airboats are stuck.
The Florida Fish and Wild Life commission is sold out of gator permits on Orange and Lochloosa lakes.
"There's a lot of upset people," said Cajun Perry, a gator guide on Orange Lake, "they just lost $272."
Airboats are stuck in the mud. Lake Lochloosa is at a record low, and Orange Lake isn't far behind.
"I'm going to lose all the business from the people that signed up to come here to stay overnight," said Jeff Septer, Twin Lakes Fishing & Camping owner.
Alligator hunters don't have many options.
"To be patient, to make contingency plans- in case they can't get out immediately, and pray for rain," said Steve Stiegler, FWC Alligator Biologist.
According to the FWC, the lake was this low in 2000, and hunters got some use out of their permits. However, that was before the dusk- to- dawn airboat curfew approved by alachua county voters last November. Now gator hunters, whose best hunting is in the dark, are out of luck.
"When you overpopulate your water ways, your Gators are going to get big, but they're going to be poor," said Perry.
The low waters combined with the airboat curfew, means more gators.
"It will be a danger for a child, walking the bank if you don't have them controlled. You got your nuisance gator hunter, but he's just one person in alachua county," he said.
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