Arkansas hunters set alligator record at 64

Arkansas hunters set alligator record at 64

LITTLE ROCK – The 2016 alligator season ended just before sunrise Sept. 26. As the fog lifted from the waters of south Arkansas on the 10th season of alligator hunting in recent history, a record 64 alligators had been harvested in two weekends of hunting.

According to Mark Barbee, AGFC wildlife biologist at the Monticello Regional Office, the record number doesn’t necessarily mean the population is growing, but has a lot to do with the availability of water during survey periods and the efforts of the hunters.

“We issue the number of permits each year based on surveys done in spring,” Barbee said. “If there’s a lot of water, we can access a lot more areas and our count may go up, allowing us to increase permits. However, higher water levels can also have a negative impact, in that alligators can disperse into new areas we can’t access, so it’s not a sure thing.”

Barbee says this year, 116 permits were available for the drawing, and out of those drawn, 111 hunters attended the mandatory orientations to receive their permit.

“Each year we have 15 or so people who don’t claim their permit or attend the mandatory orientation,” Barbee said. “This year’s participation was much better.”

Although no alligators this season broke the state record of 13 feet, 10 inches, both zones had some gators longer than 12 feet turned in. The largest of the season came from Zone 3 (southeast Arkansas) and measured 12 feet, 10? inches. The largest from Zone 1 (southwest Arkansas) was 12 feet, 4 inches. Plenty of 10- to 12-footers were shared via the AGFC’s Facebook page.

“We always have a respectable amount of good-size gators checked,” said Barbee. “This year social media was a little more active during the hunt and kept people’s attentions that it was going on.”

From Ark. Game & Fish