The creation of the Coastal Zone with 50 tags for all territory below I-10 in the two coastal counties will target that underutilized population.
“That’s where we get 95 percent of our nuisance alligator complaints,” Nix said. “That’s where everybody lives, but there are also a lot of alligators down there. We would much rather hunters take those alligators out instead of us. Historically, we have averaged less than 5% of the harvest from the area south of the interstate.”
The 50 tags for the Coastal Zone will reduce the number of tags for the rest of the Southwest Zone to 100. Nix said 96 gators were harvested in the whole Southwest Zone last season.
“The Coastal Zone will include the private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties that lie south of I-10,” Nix said. “Any body of water in the two coastal counties will likely have alligators. There are some really good alligators down there, and they’re not hunted at all.”
The Coastal Zone will have the same rules as the Southwest Zone and will utilize the same check station at the WFF’s office on the Causeway at 30571 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort, AL 36527.
Dates for the Southwest Zone and the Coastal Zone are sunset on August 8 until sunrise on August 11 and sunset on August 15 until sunrise on August 18.
The Southeast Zone, which includes private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties (excluding public Alabama state waters in Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries) will have 40 tags with season dates from sunset on August 10 until sunrise on September 2.
The West Central Zone, where Mandy Stokes’ world record gator (15 feet, 9 inches, 1,011.5 pounds) was caught in 2014, will have 50 tags. The West Central boundaries are private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S. Highway 84), Wilcox and Dallas counties. The season dates will be the same as the Southwest and Coastal zones of sunset on August 8 until sunrise on August 11 and sunset on August 15 until sunrise on August 18. The check station for the West Central Zone is at Roland Cooper State Park near Camden.
Public state waters in the Walter F. George Reservoir/Lake Eufaula and its navigable tributaries, south of Alabama Highway 208 at Omaha Bridge (excludes Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge) are included in the Lake Eufaula Zone, which will have 20 tags and season dates of sunset August 16 until sunrise September 30. An 8-foot minimum length requirement is in effect for alligators harvested in the Lake Eufaula Zone, which is the only zone that allows hunting during daytime and nighttime hours.
However, a new rule that was implemented last year may affect that average size. The no-cull rule means hunters cannot catch and then release an alligator to try to find a larger one.
“No more culling is allowed,” Nix said. “If you get the alligator next to the boat, it must be dispatched immediately. Once it’s captured, it’s your alligator.”
For those lucky enough to get drawn and complete the online training course, Nix recommends scouting the designated hunting areas before the season starts.
Stock Image courtesy of David Rainer - AL fish & game