Alligator Hunting Season Set for Fall 2004

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It may be impossible to see a dinosaur in this day and age, but if you are one of 300 fortunate hunters you can bring home a close relative - the American alligator. Alligators currently have a population in Georgia of more than 200,000 thanks to sound wildlife management. Last fall, hunters were able to enjoy the inaugural alligator hunting season during which 73 alligators were harvested. The season drew attention from all over the world and more than 2,500 applications, from 28 states, including Alaska, were received for the 180 permits awarded. This year, hunters will have a chance at one of 300 permits and will be allowed to choose a hunt location from a larger number of areas. The 2004 alligator hunting season is Sept. 11-26 and the deadline for quota hunt applications is July 31, 2004.

“The alligator is not an endangered animal and Georgia is fortunate to have a healthy population, as do many other states in the southeast that already have established alligator hunting seasons,” says WRD Chief of Game Management Todd Holbrook. “This hunting opportunity provides Georgia sportsmen and women a hunting experience that is truly unique, challenging and exciting and also provides for the conservation of wildlife through funds received from the purchase of the required alligator hunting license and associated hunting equipment.”

Hunters selected for the 2004 alligator hunting season will be notified in early August and will have the opportunity to attend one of four voluntary training sessions. During these sessions, experts will provide information on safety, capture and handling techniques, processing and more. Quota hunt applications are available at WRD offices and on the WRD website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.

In Georgia, alligators typically are found south of the fall line (which roughly connects the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta). They occupy a variety of wetland habitats in the wild, including marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes, but also have been found in ditches, neighborhoods, drainage canals, roadways, golf course ponds and sometimes in swimming pools. Male alligators can grow up to 16 feet in length and female alligators can grow up to 10 feet with large alligators reaching weights of over 800 pounds. Alligators are carnivores and will eat almost anything they can catch including, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, waterfowl, otters and more. WRD Biologists conduct annual alligator nest surveys that enable the agency to determine current population numbers and make management decisions.

“Alligators are beneficial in the wild, helping maintain the population balance of certain prey species and helping shape and modify habitat, such as digging holes during times of severe drought to concentrate water which helps the alligator survive as well as provide a water source to many other species of plants and animals in the area,” says Holbrook. “Alligators also provide many uses as a commodity, the meat is known to taste good and the skin can be tanned for display, made into leather goods or sold.”

For more information on the alligator hunting season, visit the WRD website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (229) 426-5267.