Process Begins For Second Alligator Hunting Season
LITTLE ROCK – The first step in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s renewal process for a second year of the well-received alligator hunting season has begun. For the past couple of weeks, AGFC field crews have been busy conducting spotlight surveys across south Arkansas.
The population data, a harvest report from the first alligator hunt, a summary of last year’s nuisance alligator activities and a report on Arkansas’ farm-raised alligators will all be compiled into a single report and submitted to the U. S Fish and Wildlife Service by July 1. The USFWS will have to review the information to determine if the conservative hunting season is having any negative impacts on overall alligator numbers.
The timeline for pulling-off this hunt is very narrow this year, reported Ricky Chastain, AGFC Assistant Chief of the Wildlife Management Division. “Last year, we used spotlight data collected in 2001-2003. All our permit locations and permit numbers were already known going into the approval process. Now, we are required to collect new spotlight data and the survey routes can’t be run until late May early June. Unfortunately, this is the schedule we will have to use from now on,” Chastain explained
It is the goal of the AGFC Alligator Management Team to have an alligator hunt proposal ready to present to the Commission by July 17. “This proposal will likely precede any official approval from the USFWS,” Chastain said. “In order for this hunt to take place, we must proceed with some of these steps without USFWS approval. We are confident the data will support our recommendations for another hunt,” he added.
Following the presentation of the alligator hunt proposal, the Commission will begin the process of taking on-line applications for the public land and private land at-large permits. The application period for these randomly drawn permits will be July 18 through Aug. 15. “We do not anticipate any big changes in the number of total available permits or the basic structure of the hunt. Information on hunt locations and permits will be posted on our Web site at www.agfc.com as they are finalized,” Chastain said. The exact locations of available permits will not be known until the surveys are complete and the initial proposal is given to the Commission in July.
Once the hunt is approved by the Commission in August, the pace of the process will quicken. All permits must be issued and confirmations received no later than Sept. 3. The mandatory hunter orientation classes will be held on Sept. 6 and Sept. 13. The first of two alligator hunts will be begin 30 minutes after sunset on Friday, Sept. 19 and will end 30 minutes before sunrise on Monday, Sept. 22. The second alligator hunt will be begin 30 minutes after sunset on Friday, Sept. 26 and will end 30 minutes before sunrise on Monday, Sept. 29.
Chastain strongly urges anyone interested in a chance to participate in the alligator hunt to be aware of the dates in this process. “We really want the public to understand how this process must be condensed into a short timeframe and to be prepared to respond to the timelines of the application period, as well as plan ahead for the orientation sessions and hunt times if successfully drawn,” he said.
During the 2007 alligator hunting season, 32 permits were issued and 21 alligators were harvested. Twelve gators were harvested in the southwest quarter of the state and nine were harvested in the southeast quarter. The largest alligator taken was a 12 foot, 8 inch male taken on private land in southeast Arkansas.