Florida is home to roughly 1.3 million alligators, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, so it should come as no surprise that the state has several laws to deal with them. They range from protecting alligators to how you can legally remove one from your property.
The Alligator Management Program
Florida’s Alligator Management Program has five separate divisions, one of which is the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. Should an alligator come lumbering into your yard, you can call SNAP toll free at 866-FWC-GATOR, and SNAP will send a nuisance alligator trapper to come collect it. But there’s a catch. The gator must be at least 4 feet long before Florida law considers it to officially be a nuisance. The state takes the position that shorter alligators are incapable of causing harm, even to household pets, unless they’re handled. Of course, this can leave you between a rock and a hard place because removing the alligator yourself may involve handling it. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t risk harm. Call SNAP anyway and ask what you should do, or call your local animal control agency.
Laws Regarding Trapping or Killing
It’s a third-degree felony under Florida law to kill or injure an alligator, so don’t try to poison one to get rid of it. It’s also a felony to capture and keep an alligator or its eggs unless you purchase a special alligator trapping or farming license from the state.
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program
- The 2014 Florida Statutes: Section 379.409 Illegal Killing, Possessing, or Capturing of Alligators or Other Crocodilia or Eggs; Confiscation of Equipment
- The 2014 Florida Statutes: Section 379.3751 Taking and Possession of Alligators; Trapping Licenses; Fees
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.