Arkansas Alligator Hunters Had a Record Harvest This Year

This 12-foot, 2-inch alligator was harvested on the first night of the 2023 season. AGFC / Courtesy Melissa Phillips

Arkansas hunters got busy during this year’s brief alligator season, which took place the last two full weekends in September. Hunters tagged a total of 202 gators and set a new harvest record for the state, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This breaks the previous harvest record of 174 gators set in 2020.

AGFC biologist Mark Barbee explained in a press release that the record harvest wasn’t surprising because the agency issued more tags in 2023 than in years past.  

“It’s not really indicative of a population explosion,” Barbee said. “We added a few more alligators to the private land quotas this year to let people with alligators remove them through the hunt instead of it becoming a nuisance wildlife issue.”

The majority of this year’s harvest fell under AGFC’s private-land quota, which was set at 173 alligators across three management zones. Private-land hunters in south-central Arkansas reached their quota during the first weekend of the hunt, while hunters in the other two zones reached their quota by the season’s end on Sept. 25.

Opportunities to hunt alligators on public land in Arkansas are limited since tags are allocated through a draw, and only a few public areas are open to alligator hunting. Hunters in the state drew a total of 42 public tags this year but only filled around half of those. Barbee said this number falls in line with public-land success rates in the past.

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“Every year we’ll have hunters who draw the public land permits and hold out for a trophy alligator,” he explained. “Some won’t settle for less, and others may wait too long to chase a smaller alligator before the season is over. Either way, we always have some public land hunters who end the season with unfilled tags.”

Arkansas has held an alligator hunting season every year since 2007. The statewide gator population currently hovers around 3,000 animals, which is much smaller than the estimated 2 million wild alligators that live in neighboring Louisiana.

The post Arkansas Alligator Hunters Had a Record Harvest This Year appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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