‘Bama Gator Hunts

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has opened registration for Alabama's sixth regulated alligator hunting season, which takes place in August. Prospective hunters can register now for one of the 295 tags. The hunts will be held on August 12-15 and August 19- 22 in the Mobile Tensaw Delta and west central Alabama, and on August 12-28, for the southeast Alabama area. Online registration for the random tag drawing will end at 8 a.m. on July 11. Visit www.outdooralabama.com to register.

This year, 50 tags will be issued for the new hunt area in west central Alabama, which includes Monroe County (north of US Hwy. 84), Wilcox County and Dallas County. A total of 120 tags will be issued for the southeast Alabama area. For the Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunts, which take place in parts of Baldwin and Mobile counties, 125 tags will be issued. If a person is selected for an Alligator Possession Tag at two or more locations, they will be allowed to choose which location they would like to hunt. The other spot(s) not chosen will be filled from a list of alternates.

The cost is $6 to apply and individuals may register multiple times. Only Alabama residents age 16 years or older may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag. Hunters will be randomly chosen by computer to receive one Alligator Possession Tag each, and the tags are non-transferable.

The random selection of hunters takes place on July 11. Applicants will be able to check their status (selected, alternate or not selected) at www.outdooralabama.com after the selection takes place. Applicants selected to receive a permit must complete an online acceptance by 5 p.m. on July 13. After that date, alternates will be called by telephone to fill any vacancies. All vacancies will be filled this way until the dates for the training classes. After the training classes, vacancies will be filled with the next alternate on the list who attended the training class.

Selected hunters and their assistants are required to have in their possession a valid 2010-11 hunting license. Each hunter is required to complete the Alligator Training Course provided by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division personnel. Previously selected and trained hunters who participated as permittees in a hunt in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in previous years are exempt from training, if participating in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunt.

Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Tag will be allowed to harvest one alligator 6 feet in length or longer. Hunting hours will be from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. each day. All Alabama hunting and boating regulations must be followed.

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the largest reptile in North America. A fully mature alligator may grow to 14 feet in length and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds. Known for its prized meat and leather, the species was threatened with extinction due to unregulated harvest during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. No regulations existed in those days to limit the number of alligators harvested. In 1938, it is believed that Alabama was the first state to protect alligators by outlawing these harvests. Other states soon followed and in 1967 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the American alligator on the Endangered Species list. By 1987, the species was removed from the Endangered Species list and the alligator population has continued to grow.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama's natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.