Seminole County

Alligator season arrives, Central Florida activists protest hunting

SANFORD, Fla. — Alligator season has officially begun in Florida and hunters have already headed to the water this week.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

This year, they are able to hunt for 24 hours a day. But for some, the concept is controversial.

One group held a protest in Sanford Saturday to address their concerns and rally for alligator rights.

Read: ‘All I felt was scales, teeth’: Florida firefighter describes gator attack that almost killed him

Protesters from the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida said people should not be allowed to hunt alligators at all.

Gator hunters at the Black Hammock in Oviedo have a different opinion.

Hunter Harry Austin said gator hunting is just what people do in Florida.

Read: “He’s just chillin’ “: Deputies respond after woman reports alligator in swimming pool

“I think gator hunting is part of Florida, it’s what we’ve always been part of,” he said. “It brings us closer to the wildness that we have and it’s also doing our job as Floridians, keeping the numbers down.”

Bryan Wilson, the central Florida coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, said alligators can control their own population.

“Prior to the 1970s, alligators were hunted almost to extinction and there was a brief pause on alligator hunting and how do we reward them? By a 24-hour hunt,” he said.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are about 1.3 million alligators across Florida.

Read: “It was so fast, insanely fast’: 4-year-old boy, dog killed in Cocoa house fire, officials say

The state has more than 15,000 people who apply for 7,500 permits each year.

The season runs through November 1.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.