People interested in chasing an Arkansas alligator on public land and water this fall have until midnight June 30 to put their name in the hat. Applications for the 2020 Arkansas alligator season are available online at www.agfc.com.
Each permit authorizes the harvest of one alligator, which must be at least 4 feet long. Alligator hunting is allowed 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise Sept. 18-21 and Sept. 25-28. Each permit holder may have up to three assistants with them on the hunt, but only the permit holder is allowed to snare, harpoon or dispatch the alligator.
Alligator hunters must be at least 16 years of age, and only Arkansas residents or holders of an Arkansas Lifetime Sportsman’s Permit may apply for public land alligator permits. Applicants with 18 or more AGFC violation points are ineligible to apply.
As with the rest of the AGFC’s permit application system, alligator-hunt applicants must pay a $5 nonrefundable processing fee when the application is submitted.
Hunters pursuing alligators on private land will see a change this year that could enable them more opportunity than ever before to tag an Arkansas gator. Instead of hoping for a drawn permit, hunters who own or have permission to hunt on private land will be able to hunt through a quota-based system similar to private land elk hunting in The Natural State.
Mark Barbee, wildlife biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Monticello Regional Office, says the quota system has worked extremely well for elk during the last few years and has been in place for bear hunting in Arkansas for decades.
“Anyone can obtain the private land alligator permit through the AGFC’s online licensing system for $5 in addition to their hunting license,” Barbee said. “They will be able to participate in the alligator hunt on private land they have permission to hunt until the quota has been met in that zone. It will be up to each hunter to call in before their hunt every night to the wildlife hotline (1-800-440-1477) to see if the quota has been met and if they can continue their hunt.”
Barbee says the change will allow more people with possible nuisance alligator issues to have a chance to remove those alligators or allow another hunter to do so. He hopes the change also will encourage more hunters who have permits to follow through with their hunt.
“We set the number of permits and quotas based on how many alligators we need removed to keep the population at a sustainable level that minimizes nuisance issues,” Barbee said. “But we do see quite a few private land tags go unfilled each year if the hunter doesn’t find a large enough alligator to meet their expectations. Now that extra harvest opportunity can be used by another hunter on different land.”
Hunter orientations also will see a bit of a change this year, as precautions against large public gatherings due to the coronavirus will prevent the seminar-style orientations historically used for successful permit applicants.
“We have developed an online hunt orientation and orientation manual at agfc.com that lays out all the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt,” Barbee said. “Before a person engages in an alligator hunt, they should read through this orientation material to familiarize themselves with the rules of the hunt.”
Visit www.agfc.com/alligator for more information on Arkansas’s 2020 alligator season and to apply for a public land permit.