Hunters by far surpass record of alligator kills in Florida

Hunters killed more alligators this year than any other in recorded Florida history, a wildlife official said, after the state extended the season and allowed each hunter multiple permits.

More than 5,800 alligators were killed by hunters during the 11-week season that ended Nov. 1, preliminary figures show. The number is expected to rise as more kills are reported, said Steve Stiegler of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Thursday.

The previous single-season record, set last year, was about 3,400.

The state extended this year's season by about six weeks and allowed hunters to buy more than one permit; each permit allows two kills.

The state sold all 4,406 permits to 2,155 hunters in less than four hours in June. Last year, the commission issued only about 2,800 of 4,300 available permits, reports AP.

Alligators killed three people in separate incidents during one week in May, something Stiegler said "certainly increased the publicity of the alligator harvest."

"But we don't think it necessarily increased the interest in the program by the participants," he said.

Biologists estimate Florida harbors as many as 2 million alligators.