Gator hunting is no longer reserved for University of Georgia sports fans, but hunters must file applications by the end of July.
In the 1960s, Georgia banned killing alligators after unregulated hunting depleted the population, said Greg Waters, the Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s alligator program manager.
Alligators were removed from the protected species list in the 1980s and the state lifted its ban on alligator hunting in 2003, Waters stated in a newly released DNR video.
Only 850 permits are available for the season, which runs this year from Sept. 6-Oct. 5.
Hunters are allowed to kill one alligator that must be at least 48 inches long.
Last year, 246 alligators, averaging 8 feet 2 inches in length, were harvested in counties south of Georgia’s fall line, which stretches from Columbus to Macon and Augusta.
The longest measured 13 feet 11 inches and was taken in September in Lake Seminole near the Florida border.
“We anticipate that alligator quota hunt application interest will be on par with past years, and expect more than 10,000 applicants,” John Bowers, chief of the Game Management Section, said in a news release.
Applicants apply online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/quota and will be asked to enter a Social Security number to create an account.
There are nine hunting zones in the southern half of Georgia and each has a quota.
Zone 5, which includes Bibb, Twiggs, Wilkinson, Laurens, Treutlen, Dodge, Telfair Wilcox, Bleckley and Pulaski counties, is allowed 70 permits.
Zone 3, which includes Houston, Peach, Crawford, Taylor, Dooly, Crisp and Macon counties, is allowed 60 permits.
Due to the demand, it could take up to three years for a hunter to be approved, Waters said.
Selected hunters will receive a packet of information by early August.
Typically, hunters will be granted permits every three to five years.
“If you have been fortunate enough to be selected for an alligator hunting permit, be sure to encourage friends and others to apply for the experience of a lifetime,” Bowers said.
Alligators eat small mammals, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, water birds and aquatic insects and live in marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.