The lake between Ocala and Gainesville in Florida is the number 2 breeding ground for alligators: Who is the leader
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Orange Lake is the largest lake in the region that covers Alachua and Marion counties. According to the AZ Animals Blog, it ranks second in Florida in terms of alligator population, with approximately 2,732 alligators living on its 12,550 acres.
Locals Sean Robinson and Scott Sommer often travel from Ocala to hunt for alligator meat at Orange Lake. They said they have seen thousands of alligators, especially many in late October and early November. This was reported by news.yahoo.com.
Florida has strict rules for hunting alligators. Robinson received the maximum number of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tags - two, which allowed him to harvest one alligator per tag. The FWC says alligators can be taken during certain periods between August 15 and November 1.
However, alligator hunting is limited in the state. According to the FWC, typically more than 15,000 applicants apply for the approximately 7,000 harvest permits that are issued through three random drawings each year.
Robinson and Sommer were among the lucky winners. Sommer comes to Orange Lake about once a week year-round and says many alligators thrive on its marshes and shores.
"You've got the shoreline and then you've got, like, a couple hundred or a thousand yards of marsh where all these big alligators can breed and be happy and stay away from people," Sommer said.
He also added that responsible, ethical hunting is important and that most hunters really do value wildlife.
"We, hunters, care about animals... We're the people who pay the FWC when we buy a federal duck stamp, our alligator hunting (permits), our licenses," Sommer said.
Mike Jacobs, a Gainesville resident and University of Florida graduate, said he usually comes to Orange Lake at least once a week to catch bass and sees two or three alligators every time he's there. They don't bother him. In fact, they run away from him and he just thinks of them as "animals doing their thing."
High Springs resident James Slayton also frequents Orange Lake to hunt ducks. He said the number of alligators he sees each time can vary, sometimes it can be as many as 10.
A state full of alligators
According to a report by USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida, the number 1 lake for alligators in Florida is Lake Okeechobee. It is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and borders five counties. There are 9,308 counted alligators and approximately 30,000 populations.
Orange Lake ranks second in the state with 2,732 alligators. Lake George in Volusia County ranks third with 2,660 alligators. Lake Jesup in Seminole County gets fourth place with 2,414 alligators and an estimated population of approximately 13,000, and Lake Kissimmee in Osceola and Polk counties ranks fifth with 2,065 alligators.
The FWC says that there are about 1.3 million alligators in all 67 counties, so every resident of the Sunshine State is bound to encounter a Florida alligator at least once. They are simply a part of Florida life, and most residents seem to have accepted this fact.