Each of the 11 hunters can harvest up to two alligators.
Florida’s public alligator hunt opened on Friday, and this year hunters will have access to the 150,000-acre Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. According to Reuters, more than a thousand sportsmen and women applied for the privilege of hunting inside the refuge, but only 11 hunters will be allowed inside. The decision to allow harvests from Everglades refuge came after nearly a decade of debate, and a crowd of animal rights advocates are expected to hold demonstrations outside refuge grounds.
Hunting inside national parks and refuges has remained a polarizing issue between hunters and animal advocacy groups. Sportsmen say public lands should be openly accessible by hunters, and that the absence of hunting has created overpopulation in some parks. That does seem to be the case in some areas, where populations of deer and other game animals have grown rampant. Earlier this month the National Park Service announced its $1.8 million plan to cull deer in three Civil War battleground memorial parks in Maryland and Virginia. Since hunting is not allowed on the battlegrounds, the deer populations in the Antietam, Monocacy, and Manassas battlefields have grown several times past what officials consider a sustainable deer density. Animal rights groups however, argue that refuges are supposed to provide a safe haven for wildlife.