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Alligator registration deadline Tuesday

The “Fancher Alligator” was caught in August 2012,  weighed in at 814 pounds and was over 14 feet in length.

The “Fancher Alligator” was caught in August 2012, weighed in at 814 pounds and was over 14 feet in length. (Submitted photo | Times-Journal)

By Scottie Brown 

The Selma Times-Journal

 

Those wanting to test the limits of their hunting abilities have only until Tuesday at 8 a.m. to register online for Alabama’s next alligator hunting season. Tuesday marks the deadline to register for one of the all-important tags needed to hunt.

There are three regions hunters can register for a tag. Dallas County falls in the west central Alabama region. The names of 50 hunters will be drawn to receive a tag for the region, but Chuck Sykes, director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife Freshwater Fisheries, said a hunter could apply for a tag in any of the regions.

“Anybody in the state can register for west central Alabama,” Sykes said. “They can be on the coast or the can be in North Alabama, they just have to pick which area they want to apply for.”

Sykes said that as of Monday, June 30, nearly 500 hunters had already applied for a tag in the west central Alabama region for this upcoming hunting season and that much the region’s appeal came from the size of alligators in the area.

“A lot of the larger alligators are coming from west central Alabama, so that’s where people are wanting to go,” he said.

Unlike previous season, hunters are only being allowed to apply for a tag one time. Those who receive a tag for the first time are required to attend a class that will go over the requirements and safety tips for hunters.

Joe Johnston, a conservation officer, said those who received a tag in previous years were not necessarily required to attend the class.

“If you were lucky enough to get a tag last year, and had already been through the course, then you would not be required to come,” Johnston said. “You would certainly be welcomed, but you wouldn’t be required to.”

One of the things applicants will learn at the class is that all of those attending the hunt are required to have a hunting license with them, Johnston said.

“Everybody in the boat if they’re required to have a hunting license, must have a hunting license,” Johnston said. “Anyone between the ages 16 and 65 in the boat with the person that has the tag for the alligator, they are required to have a hunting license. A lot of times, we’ll run into, we call them the ‘helpers’ and the helpers won’t have their hunting licenses.”

Tad Lightfoot, who had the opportunity to go alligator hunting the first season in Alabama, said the experience was well worth it.

“I grew up in Dallas County, we’ve hunted everything there is to hunt around here, I’ve never been able to hunt alligators,” Lightfoot said. “It’s the first thing I’d ever hunted that could hunt you.”

While Lightfoot said he would not be applying for a tag this year, he said those wanting to apply for a tag should be cautious and well-prepared.

“You’ve got to really pay attention to what you’re doing,” Lightfoot said. “You can’t have too many people in the boat. You’ve got to have the right equipment. A 600-pound alligator that’s 13-feet-long, will hurt you in a heartbeat.”

A total of 240 Alligator Possession Tags in three zones will be issued for the hunts by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is $22 ($20 administrative fee plus a $2 transaction fee per person, per zone) and individuals may only register one time per zone.

Hunts are scheduled for Aug.14-17 and Aug. 21-24 in southwest and west central Alabama, and Aug. 8-24 in southeast Alabama.

Hunters will be randomly chosen by computer to receive one tag each. Tags are non-transferable.

To register online visit www.alabamainteractive.org/alligator_hunt/Welcome.do.

The drawing for tags will take place Tuesday, July 8 with results being posted online. Applicant’s acceptance for the tag is required by Tuesday, July 15 at 8 a.m. If a tag is not accepted, it will go to the next person on the list who then has 24 hours to respond.