“That was the second luckiest day of my life; the first was when I married my wife, Janette,” said Robert “Tres” (pronounced “Tray”) Ammerman, after he bagged the alligator which turned out to be the longest on record in Florida.
Ammerman, a licensed practical nurse at Florida Living Nursing Center in Apopka, has been hunting alligators in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) annual statewide alligator harvest for the past seven years. “But it wasn’t until the last day of this year’s season that the Pine Hills resident hit the jackpot and took what he would later learn is the state’s longest documented alligator, breaking a 13-year record,” FWC said in a caption released with this photograph of Ammerman with the record alligator.
The official measurements put Ammerman’s gator at 14 feet, 3½ inches (4.35 meters) long and 654 pounds (297 kilograms), FWC said. “The previous record for length was held by a 14-foot, 5/8-inch alligator taken from Lake Monroe in 1997 by a nuisance-alligator trapper. The heaviest alligator on record weighed 1,043 pounds [473 kilograms] and was taken from Orange Lake in 1989. It was also taken as a nuisance gator.”
The FWC estimates that 1,250,000 wild alligators live in Florida, enough to sustain controlled hunting.
“Since 1988, Florida’s statewide alligator harvest has been internationally recognized as a model program for the sustainable use of a natural resource,” the FWC website states. “Each year, alligator management units are established with appropriate harvest quotas to provide recreational opportunities for Floridians and non-residents to take up to two alligators per permit.”
According to the FWC website, the American alligator is classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as similarity of appearance to a threatened taxon. This listing provides federal protection for alligators but allows state-approved management and control programs. The alligator is listed by the State of Florida as a Species of Special Concern (172 KB Adobe Reader file). Alligators can be legally taken only by individuals with proper licenses and permits.
- Related National Geographic News story (2001): Controlled Alligator Harvest an Effective Conservation Tool, Louisiana Says