Alligator hunting in Alabama has taken off in recent years. Not only has alligator hunting been popularized by television, the state of Alabama staked claim to the current world record back in 2014 with a 15-foot gator that hit the scales at over 1,000 pounds. That’s one big lizard!
Alabama Alligator Registration
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) opens online registration each June for the state’s annual regulated alligator hunts. During this open period, registration must be completed by by persons interested in hunting alligators in Alabama during the open alligator hunting season.
A total of 260 Alligator Possession Tags will be distributed among four hunting zones within the state during 2017, but the number will vary some amount depending on the year. The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is currently $22 and individuals may register one time per zone. While the tag is free, the selected hunters and their assistants are required to have valid hunting licenses in their possession while hunting.
Only Alabama residents and Alabama lifetime license holders ages 16 years or older may apply for tags. Alabama lifetime license holders may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag even if they have moved out of the state. To register for this year’s alligator hunts visit this site during the registration period.
Alligator Hunter Selection
Hunters will be selected at random (by computer) and those selected will have the chance to go alligator hunting in Alabama. Selected hunters can receive one Alligator Possession Tag each, and the tags are non-transferable. The random selection process uses a preference point system.
The system increases the likelihood of repeat registrants being selected for a hunt as long as the applicant continues to apply. The more years an applicant participates in the registration, the higher the likelihood of being selected. If an applicant does not register for the hunt in a given year or is selected for a hunt, the preference point status is forfeited.
It is suggested that applicants check their selection status after the alligator registration period. Those selected to receive a tag must confirm their acceptance online by the July deadline each year. After that date, alternates will be notified to fill any remaining alligator tags.
Applicants drawn for the hunt must attend a mandatory zone-specific Alligator Training Course provided by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. The course will cover regulations, hunting strategies, hunting equipment and offer other helpful information. If hunters have attended a previous training course, they may be exempted from this requirement.
If selected for an Alligator Possession Tag at two or more locations within the state of Alabama, gator hunters must choose which location they would prefer to hunt. Each hunter only has the right to “win” one alligator tag.
Alligator Hunting Zones & Tag Issuance
- Southwest Alabama Zone – 150 Tags-Locations: Private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties, and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke and Monroe counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of U.S. Highway 84.
- Southeast Alabama Zone – 40 Tags-Locations: Private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties (excluding public Alabama state waters in Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries).
- West Central Alabama Zone – 50 Tags-Locations: Private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S. Highway 84), Wilcox and Dallas counties.
- Lake Eufaula Zone – 20 Tags-Location: Public state waters only in the Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries, south of Alabama Highway 208 at Omaha Bridge (excludes Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge).
Alabama’s Alligator Hunting Regulations
The Alabama alligator hunting regs are available online. It’s a good to review these rules annually, especially if you are fortunate enough to be selected, since hunting regulations do change periodically.
There are no minimum length requirements for alligators harvested in Alabama, except that an 8-foot minimum length requirement is in effect for alligators harvested the in Lake Eufaula Zone. If selected for that zone, make sure to adhere to that rule.
General alligator hunting hours are 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM in the Southwest, Southeast and West Central Zones. For the Lake Eufaula Alligator Hunting Zone, hunting is allowed both daytime and nighttime hours. It is important to note that all Alabama hunting and boating regulations must be followed while gator hunting.
Alligators in Alabama
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the largest reptile in Alabama and the remainder of North America. Alligators can exceed 14 feet in length and 1,000 pounds in weight. In fact, the world record alligator was caught in Alabama in 2014 and was over 15 feet in length.
The alligator was threatened with extinction due to unregulated harvest during the 1920s-40s. The meat as well as the leather produced from the hide was and still is highly prized. No regulations existed in those days to limit the number of alligators harvested.
In 1938, it is believed that Alabama was the first state to protect alligators by outlawing these unlimited harvests. Other states soon followed and in 1967, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the American alligator on the Endangered Species list. By 1987, the species was removed from the Endangered Species list and the alligator population has continued to expand, even with regulated hunting. The history of the American Alligator serves as an excellent conservation success story.