First-ever public alligator hunt held at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

First-ever public alligator hunt held at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

On Friday, a first ever public alligator hunt was held at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Palm Beach County.

Several hunting parties that arrived at the 143,000-acre tract of forest and marsh were greeted by a dozen protesters from the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. These people held up signs reading, "Ban Gator Hunt", "No Hunting in a Refuge" and "Stop Killing Our Wildlife".

To ensure that the event is carried out peacefully, the officials from U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Broward and Palm Beach Sheriff's department along with the Sunrise police were present there. The police ensured that the hunters and protesters remain apart.

For the first of its kind public alligator hunt, a total of 11 hunters won a lottery among 1,200 who applied for permits to hunt two gators. The tools used by these hunters for hunting will involve harpoon, rod-and-reel, snares, gigs and crossbows. The rule of the hunt involves that the hunters must kill gators as soon as they catch them using a bang stick, or explosive charge fired a point-blank range.

Lyle Sisson, a West Palm Beach taxidermist and experienced alligator hunter says that he is here to set a state record. About this first ever public alligator hunt he said, "They've never been hunted before. There's a state record in here somewhere. I want one that I look at him and say, 'Oh my God.' It's an adrenaline rush for sure". Sisson and his wife Andrea are hunting with friends Andy and Cathy Gonzalez, also of West Palm Beach they will be using rod-and-reel and a harpoon.

Florida has released 6,000 permits this year which means that about twelve-thousand gators can be hunted over the next couple of months. Explaining the issue of these permits, Florida's Fish and Wildlife commission stated that these hunts actually help the state in the management of alligators in Florida.

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