Alabama Announces First Regulated Alligator Season

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Governor Bob Riley announced Alabama's first-ever regulated alligator hunting season, which will take place August 18-24, 2006, in portions of Baldwin and Mobile counties.

"The Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (ADCNR) took action nearly 70 years ago that saved alligators from possible extinction and led to its full recovery," said Riley. "Today, alligators are so numerous in certain areas that it is necessary to control their populations through a regulated alligator hunting season."

The story of the American alligator is one of both drastic decline and complete recovery, it is a story of Alabama and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and it is one of the more prominent success stories of the nation's endangered species program.

In the early 20th century, the American alligator was threatened to become extinct due in large part to unregulated alligator harvesting throughout the South. 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.

According to ADCNR Commissioner Barnett Lawley, news of Alabama's first alligator hunting season has generated positive feedback across the state. "Alabama's alligator population has grown by leaps and bounds and they have become a nuisance," said Lawley. "Implementing a regulated alligator hunt on a small scale is an important step toward controlling populations and better managing this unique reptile."

Fifty hunters will be randomly chosen by computer for an Alligator Possession Tag. Applications will be accepted online from June 15 at 8 a.m. until August 7 at 7 a.m. The cost is $6 to apply and individuals may register only once.

Only Alabama residents age 16 years or older may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag. Only licensed hunters may apply for the hunt.  Alabama residents who do not possess a 2005-06 hunting license must purchase a 2006-07 license on or after August 1 and then apply online for the hunt.

Permits are non-transferable. All successful applicants must complete the Alligator Training Course provided by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division staff. The course will be held twice on August 18 in the Mobile area. Drawn applicants will be eligible for an Alligator Possession Tag upon completion of the course.

Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Tag will be allowed to harvest one alligator six 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. Additional details can be found here.

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the largest reptile in North America.  A fully mature alligator may grow to 14' in length and weigh as much as 1,000 lbs.  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.