Alabama issuing 260 tags in four hunting zones

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) will open online registration for the state’s 12th annual regulated alligator hunts June 2 at 8 a.m. Registration must be completed by 8 a.m. July 11. A total of 260 Alligator Possession Tags will be distributed among four hunting zones. The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is $22 and individuals may register one time per zone. While the tag is free, the selected hunters and their assistants are required to have valid hunting licenses in their possession while hunting.

Only Alabama residents and Alabama lifetime license holders ages 16 years or older may apply for tags. Alabama lifetime license holders may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag even if they have moved out of the state.

To register for the 2017 alligator hunts beginning June 2 at 8 a.m., visit www.outdooralabama.com/registration-instructions during the registration period.

Hunters will be randomly selected by computer to receive one Alligator Possession Tag each, and the tags are non-transferable. The random selection process will utilize a preference point system. The system increases the likelihood of repeat registrants being selected for a hunt as long as the applicant continues to apply. The more years an applicant participates in the registration, the higher the likelihood of being selected. If an applicant does not register for the hunt in a given year or is selected and accepts a tag for a hunt, the preference point status is forfeited.

Applicants should check their selection status on July 12 after 12 p.m. Those selected to receive a tag must confirm their acceptance online by 8 a.m. July 19. After that date, alternates will be notified to fill any vacancies. Applicants drawn for the hunt must attend a mandatory zone-specific Alligator Training Course provided by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. If hunters have attended a previous training course, they may be exempted from this requirement.

If selected for an Alligator Possession Tag at two or more locations, hunters must choose which location they would like to hunt. The slot for locations not chosen will be filled from a list of randomly selected alternates.

Hunting zones, total tags issued per zone and hunt dates are as follows:

Southwest Alabama Zone – 150 Tags
Locations: Private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties, and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke and Monroe counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of U.S. Highway 84. 2017 Dates: 8 p.m. August 10 until 6 a.m. August 13, and 8 p.m. August 17 until 6 a.m. August 20 (nighttime only).

Southeast Alabama Zone – 40 Tags
Locations: Private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties (excluding public Alabama state waters in Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries). 2017 Dates: 8 p.m. August 12 until 6 a.m. September 4 (nighttime only).

West Central Alabama Zone – 50 Tags
Locations: Private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S. Highway 84), Wilcox and Dallas counties. 2017 Dates: 8 p.m. August 10 until 6 a.m. August 13, and 8 p.m. August 17 until 6 a.m. August 20 (nighttime only).

Lake Eufaula Zone – 20 Tags
Location: Public state waters only in the Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries, south of Alabama Highway 208 at Omaha Bridge (excludes Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge). 2017 Dates: Sunset August 18 until sunrise October 2 (day and night).

An 8-foot minimum length requirement is in effect for alligators harvested in the Lake Eufaula Zone. There is no minimum length for hunts in the other zones.

Hunting hours are 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Southwest, Southeast and West Central Zones. For the Lake Eufaula Zone, hunting is allowed both daytime and nighttime hours. All Alabama hunting and boating regulations must be followed.

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the largest reptile in North America and can exceed 14 feet in length and 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 unlimited 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 expand. Its history illustrates an excellent conservation success story.

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

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