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Gator hunting season approaching


Well-known member
Gator hunting season approaching
By Kathy Ferniany
Staff Writer
Get your wet gear ready and your adrenalin in tact; gator hunting season is opening in a couple of weeks.

Only 100 out of 900 people who applied for the gator hunting season were chosen as participants in Alabama through a random computer-generated drawing.

Participants were required to attend a mandatory class held by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Fresh Water Fishery Division on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Supervising Wildlife Biologist Chuck Sharpe taught both two-hour classes. “We take out a good number of nuisance gators,” he said. “Nuisance gators are ones with a close proximity to dwellings or public areas.”

According to Commissioner Barnett Lawley, Alabama's alligator population has grown to the extent that they pose a nuisance in many areas.

“Implementing a regulated alligator hunt on a small scale is an important step toward controlling populations and better managing this unique reptile,” Lawley said in an undated news release

The department announced in late-May that the hunting season will expand to include more dates and two hunt locations.

Some of the regulations include that all alligators must be a minimum of six-feet long. Boundaries must be observed. The boundaries are set from Hwy. 225 to the east, the causeway to the south, Hwy. 43 to the West and I-64 to the North. Hunters are required to have a legal tag and only one gator is allowed per tag. “Anyone who dispatches a gator without a legal tag may be fined and/or arrested. Gators must be brought up to the boat and restrained before you actually dispatch the animal,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe stresses that safety is the main concern. Participants received the Alabama Alligator Hunting Guide 2007 from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Topics in the handout include Alligators in Alabama: Habitat and Biology, Nuisance Alligator Program, Alligator Capture and Harvest Techniques, etc. The guide also precautions hunters to “Never assume that an alligator is dead!”

Since the gators must be at least six-feet long, they must be measured.

According to the handout, the most accurate method to estimate total alligator length is by estimating the snout length, the distance between the nostrils and the front of the eyes. ... The snout length in inches can be translated into feet to estimate the total body length. For example: an eight-inch snout length would translate to eight-feet total body length.

Participants are required to provide their own boat, supplies and equipment. Geoff Woodliff, owner and operator of Delta Airboat Express and a U.S. Coast Guard Certified Captain, who will be using an airboat was enthusiastic about this year’s hunt.

“I’m looking forward to participating for my second year. I’ve been playing with airboats since I was about fourteen years old,” Woodliff said.

One participant, Gary Nixon from Scottsboro, Ala., who is attending with his 25 year old son, said, “It just sounded like something interesting and exciting – I have never done it before.”

The first hunt will begin on Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. and end at 6 a.m the following morning.

Forty-six hunters participated in the 2006 hunt. The 40 harvested alligators from that hunt ranged in weight from 77 lbs. to 461 lbs.

“We had 92 percent success rate last year and approximately 90 gators were dispatched,” Sharpe said.

Read it at http://www.baldwincountynow.com/article ... 984509.txt