Just when Alabama alligators thought it was safe to loll about for hours on hot rocks, hunting season for the reptiles is about to begin.
Once on the Endangered Species List, the American alligator population in Alabama and elsewhere has been restored to the point they pose a nuisance in many areas, state wildlife officials say. They have scheduled a hunt to control the population.
The event is Aug. 16-18 and Aug. 23-25 in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and west central Alabama.
Hunts in southeast Alabama will be held Aug. 10-26. Although there are ’gators in North Alabama, including as far north as the Tennessee River in Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, there are not enough to justify a hunt, said Ray Metzger with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. But that doesn’t mean North Alabama hunters can’t partake in hunting more southern gators.
“Implementing a regulated alligator hunt on a small scale is an important step toward controlling populations and better managing this unique reptile,” said Kenny Johnson with WFF.
Registration for the 2012 alligator hunt begins at 8 a.m. June 5 and ends 8 a.m. July 13.
The WFF will host an hour-long web chat at noon Friday, May 18, during which officials will answer questions about wildlife and fishing. To join the chat, go to www.outdooralabama.com/chat between noon and 1 p.m.
You can also send yourself an email reminder about the chat from the chat page any time before May 18.
WFF specialists in the fields of wildlife, fisheries, and conservation enforcement will also be available to answer other wildlife, hunting, and fishing related questions live. As many questions as possible will be answered during the hour. The chat will be archived on the website so it can be read in its entirety following the event. To read the archived chats visit www.outdooralabama.com/chat/archive/.
If you are curious about alligators and can’t wait for the web chat, you can view last year’s Outdoor Alabama Live episode, titled “Alligators and Snakes: What You Need to Know,” on Outdoor Alabama’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/OutdoorAlabama.
Back from the brink
The name alligator is an anglicized form of “el lagarto,” the Spanish term for “the lizard,” which early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called alligator.
Restoration of the American alligator is a national conservation success story in which Alabama played a lead role. Unregulated alligator harvests throughout the South in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s threatened the species with extinction. In 1938, Alabama took action and became the first state to protect them. Other states followed our lead and, in 1967, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service placed the American alligator on the Endangered Species List. Two decades of protection enabled the species to rebound. By 1987, the alligator was removed from the list but retained a federally protected species.
Alligators perform a service by controlling the nutria and muskrats in fresh water.