SOCIAL CIRCLE, Georgia – Georgia remains a popular destination for alligator hunters given the available healthy population of more than 200,000 gators. For the past six years, thousands of applicants have competed for a chance to participate in a quota hunt, and the number of applicants continues to grow each year. The deadline for this year’s applications is July 31. For those selected, the season runs September 1 – October 7.
“Georgia’s alligator population is monitored annually. It remains a renewable natural resource that has shown it can sustain a regulated harvest on an annual basis,” says WRD Assistant Chief of Game Management John Bowers. “This is a unique hunting opportunity in Georgia that also allows hunters to provide additional funding for wildlife conservation through the purchase of hunting licenses and associated hunting equipment.”
Interested hunters must complete a quota hunt application online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com before midnight July 31 (the application period opened June 1, 2008). Hunters receive their selection status by e-mail and those selected get a temporary harvest tag and information packet by mail in early August. All hunters may attend a voluntary training session. During these sessions, wildlife experts provide information on safety, capture and handling techniques, processing and more.
Last fall, 553 permitted hunters harvested 140 alligators. Introduced in 2003, alligator hunting continues to gain interest, with nearly 4,400 applications submitted last year, a 42 percent increase from 2006.
WRD Biologists conduct annual surveys enabling the agency to monitor populations and make management decisions. Since the inception of this hunting opportunity (2003), the population has remained stable, suggesting additional flexibility in the areas that can be hunted and the number available for harvest.
In Georgia, alligators typically live south of the fall line (which roughly connects the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta), occupying a variety of wetland habitats in the wild including marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes. They also occasionally inhabit ditches, drainage canals, golf course ponds and swimming pools. Male alligators grow up to 16 feet in length, while female alligators rarely surpass 10 feet. Large alligators weigh more than 800 pounds. Opportunistic carnivores, they eat aquatic insects, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, water birds and more.
For more information on the 2008 alligator hunting season, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (229) 426-5267.