Last year was Arkansas' first legal alligator hunt in modern times. It created quite a stir among the state's hunting public. This year, the agency expects the same enthusiasm to surround the popular hunt.
AGFC Commissioners will be presented with proposals for alligator hunting season during its July 17 meeting in Little Rock. The Commission has requested final approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The proposed season dates are 30 minutes after sunset on Sept. 19 until 30 minutes before sunrise on Sept. 22 and 30 minutes after sunset on Sept. 26 until 30 minutes before sunrise on Sept. 29.
Alligators may only be hunted at night.
Pending approval by the USFWS, a total of 32 Temporary Alligator Possession Tags will be available for certain public and private lands in southwest and southeast Arkansas.
Applications for the proposed hunt will be accepted July 18 through Aug. 15.
All applications will be handled online through the agency's website at www.agfc.com.
Applicants may call 800- 482-5795 or visit their regional AGFC office if they are unable to apply through the Internet.
Alligators may be hunted by permit only.
Private landowners with huntable alligator populations receive 12 of these permits without going through a computer draw process.
Another 11 permits are reserved for public land and are available through an online draw.
Nine additional private land permits are available through an online drawing for hunters with written permission to hunt private land in an open alligator hunting zone.
Hunters will be allowed to have up to three helpers in their hunting party.
The helpers must have a valid big-game hunting license and an Alligator Hunt Assistant Permit (provided by AGFC through each permit winner).
All successful applicants must have a valid resident big game license and $35 for the permit.
Hunters must attend a training workshop before the hunt where they will receive their permits and instructions for the hunt.
Only one application may be submitted per person. Any person submitting multiple applications would be withdrawn from the drawing process.
Applicants who have been convicted of AGFC regulation violations and have accumulated 12 violation points within a three-year period of application submission would be disqualified from the drawing and would have their preference points reduced to zero.
All drawn applicants will be notified by mail and will be required to attend and complete the alligator-hunt training course provided by AGFC.
Successful hunters must report to the AGFC their take of an alligator within four hours of harvest, with details provided at the training course.
Alligators are native to Arkansas, but they were removed from the landscape after the arrival of European settlers.
AGFC began a program to stock alligators in the state in the 1970s, when alligators were listed as an endangered species.
Since the restocking effort, alligator numbers have grown in some areas of Arkansas, especially in southwest and southeast portions of the state.
From 2002 to 2004, AGFC conducted alligator population surveys in known alligator habitats around the state.
The alligator survey isn't designed to reveal the state's overall population, but rather an estimated number of alligators per mile of the survey routes.
Arkansas' alligator population ranges from one per mile to 30 per mile, with an average of 2.3 alligators per mile along AGFC population survey routes.
By way of comparison, coastal areas of Louisiana, Texas and Florida can easily exceed 30 alligators per mile, while Arkansas' population estimates are comparable to similar habitats in Mississippi, South Carolina and North Carolina.