Florida May Ease Rules on Killing Alligators

Florida wildlife officials are considering removing alligators from a list of protected imperiled species and letting homeowners deal with nuisance gators themselves.

Officials estimate the state currently has more than 2 million alligators.

The proposed regulation changes were posted Monday on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Web site and will be considered at the commission's December meeting.

The changes would downgrade gators from a species of special concern to a game animal within five years and then remove them altogether from the state's list of imperiled animals.

That could lift restrictions that now make it illegal for homeowners to kill nuisance alligators on their property. Currently, they must contact the commission, which contracts with a trapper to remove the gator.

More alligators also could be killed over an extended period if the changes are approved. Under the current protections, each hunter is allowed only two gator kills per permit.

State alligator coordinator Harry Dutton said Tuesday the potential changes have nothing to do with the three fatal alligator attacks that occurred in one month earlier this year.

"I wish the three fatalities didn't happen, and if they didn't, this would still be going on," he said. "It's just a timely thing to do."