New Florida Rules May Give Homeowners Right to Trap, Kill Gators

Homeowners may soon be allowed to capture and kill small alligators found on their property, under new rules being considered by state wildlife officials.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials will discuss the proposal at a June 13 meeting in Melbourne.

Still being determined are how homeowners would obtain the necessary paperwork for killing the gators, and how the reptiles would be killed.

"Obviously it is illegal in most if not all incorporated areas to discharge a firearm," said commission wildlife biologist Steve Stiegler. "We would probably have to come up with recommendations as to the most humane methods to euthanize."

Under the proposal, homeowners could kill or trap gators they find that are less than 4 feet long.

A state wildlife officer currently has to investigate each complaint about an alligator. State wildlife officials fielded 21,000 complaints about nuisance gators last year.

Under the new rules, homeowners would be required to contact state officials for approval before killing the animal.