Alabama Alligator Registration Opens June 2

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The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) announces that Alabama's fourth regulated alligator hunting season will be held in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta August 14-17 and August 21- 24, 2009, and in Barbour, Henry, Houston and Russell counties on August 21-31, 2009. Online registration for the hunts will begin at 8 a.m. on June 2, 2009, and end at 8 a.m. on July 13 at www.outdooralabama.com.

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.

Previously the alligator hunt in southeast Alabama only included the Lake Eufaula area. This year it is expanded to include all of Barbour, Henry, Houston and Russell counties. A total of 80 tags will be issued for these counties. 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 both locations, they will be allowed to choose which location they would like to hunt. The other spot not chosen will be filled from a list of alternates.

Selected hunters and their assistants are required to have in their possession a valid 2008-09 hunting license. Each hunter is required to complete an Alligator Training Course provided by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division personnel. Hunters who participated as Alligator Possession Tag holders in a Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunt in previous years are exempt from taking the training course.

The random selection of hunters takes place on July 13, 2009. 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. July 15, 2009. 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 (August 1 for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunts and August 15 for the other hunts). After the training classes, vacancies will be filled with the next alternate on the list who attended the training class.

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.

In 2008, 165 tags were issued but a lingering tropical storm limited hunter success. Only three of the 40 tags issued for Lake Eufaula were filled, while 78 tags were filled out of the 125 issued for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunts.

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 has continued to grow in population.

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.