Registration for gator hunting lotto is underway

Published 12:03 am Sunday, June 5, 2011

NATCHEZ — Miss-Lou residents interested in harvesting alligators this season will need to submit their applications this month to be eligible for the lottery to determine what residents will be allowed harvest gators.

Applications will be accepted from now until June 15 in Mississippi and from now until July 8 in Louisiana for applicants who wish to hunt on public waters.

In Mississippi the private lands deadline for submitting applications is July 1. Louisiana’s private lands deadline is the same as its public waters deadline, July 8.

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David Breithaupt, supervisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the biggest thing for lottery applicants to remember is the deadline.

“We’re accepting (applications) for the public lottery right now. They are available online,” Breithaupt said. “(The biggest thing) with the lottery application, basically is (applicants) forget the deadline. The month of June is the time (for applicants) to get their affairs in order.”

Both Louisiana and Mississippi require hunters to be at least 16 years of age to apply. There is also a $5 registration fee.

There are two basic options for Miss-Lou residents if they want to harvest alligators this season. They can obtain a permit to harvest on public waters or one to harvest on private lands. There are some differences in these two processes.

Public Waters

There are two public alligator harvesting areas in Mississippi. One is the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Reservoir in Rankin, Madison and Scott counties, called the Pearl Zone. The other is the Pascagoula River Zone, located in Jackson County.

In Louisiana there are approximately 40 different public zones, including lakes Bruin, St. John, Concordia and St. Joseph. Also the Red River Wildlife Management Area and Three Rivers WMA.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks will randomly draw 480 hunters to participate in this year’s alligator harvest, 240 for each zone. Louisiana will draw approximately 300.

“With the onset of (the TV show) ‘Swamp People’ the demand and inquiries about harvesting are rising daily,” Breithaupt said.

Applications can be found at both states’ department of wildlife offices, branch offices or online on their websites. Also, applications can be found anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses in Mississippi.

The LDWF released the success rates of applicants for each public lake and WMA for 2010. Every hunter that applied for a permit at Lake Concordia was selected, 83 percent of applicants were selected at Lake Bruin, 32 percent at Lake St. John and 16 percent at Lake St. Joseph.

For the WMAs, 89 percent were selected at Red River and 29 percent at Three Rivers.

Both states require accepted applicants to have an alligator-hunting license that costs $25. Also Mississippi hunters are required to purchase an alligator possession permit that is $100.

There are four hunting days at each public waters zone in Mississippi. The dates for the Pearl Zone are Sep. 9-10 and Sep. 16-17. For the Pascagoula Zone they are Sep. 23-24 and Sep. 30-Oct. 1. Hunting hours are noon to 6 a.m. The bag limit for each hunter is two alligators four feet in length or longer, and only one of those may be more than seven feet.

Alligator season for Louisiana residents will start the first Wednesday of September (Sep. 7), Breithaupt said. The season lasts for 30 days. Hunting hours are from sunrise to sunset only. The bag limit for Louisiana lottery hunters is based on the number of tags they have. If a gator hunter wins a WMA lottery they will receive three tags, if they win a public lakes lottery they will receive two.

Lottery winners in both states will be required to complete an alligator-hunting course.

Breithaupt said the regulations in Louisiana are based on commercial harvesting rules.

“All alligator hunting is considered commercial activity,” he said. “Although the biggest part of what goes on is people doing it for recreation, it is looked upon by State law as commercial activity, so there are more regulations involved than say, recreational fishing.”

Private Waters

According to the LDWF, “a resident alligator hunter must either own land or have permission to hunt alligators on land that is classified as wetland habitat in order to qualify for alligator harvest tags. The LDWF issues harvest tags for property containing sufficient alligator habitat capable of sustaining an alligator harvest.”

“(Louisiana land owners) that have 80 acres or more of interior water qualify for private lands (licenses),” Breithaupt said. “They have to submit an application that proves ownership (of the property) and a map displaying the acreage. They basically need to call our office and they can get applications, and submit (the applications) with a good map, and we usually use tax receipts to prove property (ownership).”

In Mississippi the owner’s property must contain at least 20 acres of permanent surface water to qualify. The application materials are similar to the requirements for Louisiana. Applications can be found online or at any MDWFP office.

Counties that allow private land alligator harvesting include Adams, Jefferson and Wilkinson.

More information about the alligator lotteries, alligator harvesting or public lands applications can be found at either states’ department of wildlife website.