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Registration for gator season ends next week

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POSTED: August 9, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Alligators in Georgia currently have a population of more than 200,000, thanks to scientific wildlife management, according to the state DNR.
And as part of that management plan, the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resource Division is organizing a hunt of the reptiles.
Last fall, 500 permitted hunters harvested 175 alligators. The popularity of this hunt has increased since it was introduced in 2003.
This past year, more than 3,100 applications were submitted for the 500 permits awarded (including applications from as far away as Washington and Delaware).
“Georgia has a healthy alligator population that is monitored annually. Additionally, it is a renewable natural resource that has shown it can sustain a regulated harvest on an annual basis,” WRD assistant chief of game management John Bowers said. “This is a unique hunting opportunity that also allows hunters to provide additional funding for wildlife conservation through the purchase of hunting licenses and associated hunting equipment.”
As a result of this regulated harvest and scientific monitoring, the number of permits has increased from 500 to 550. Also, the number of counties open to legal harvest has increased to 86 from 75 and the open season was extended by 14 days. The 2007 alligator hunting season is Sept. 1-Oct. 7. The deadline to submit an application is July 31.
Interested hunters must fill out their quota hunt application online at the department’s Web site www.gohuntgeorgia.com. This application must be completed before midnight next Tuesday. Hunters will be notified of their selection status by email. They will then be sent a temporary harvest tag and information packet in early August. All hunters will have the opportunity to attend one of several voluntary training sessions.
During these sessions, experts will provide information on safety, capture and handling techniques, processing and more.
In Georgia, alligators historically are found south of the fall line (roughly connects the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta).
They occupy a variety of wetland habitats in the wild, including marshes, swamps, rivers, farm ponds and lakes, but also have been found in ditches, drainage canals, roadways, golf course ponds and sometimes in swimming pools. Male alligators can grow up to 16 feet long and female alligators can grow up to 10 feet with large alligators reaching weights of more than 800 pounds. Alligators are opportunistic carnivores eating anything they can catch, including aquatic insects, crayfish, frogs, fish, turtles, water birds and more.
WRD biologists conduct annual surveys that enable the agency to monitor populations and make management decisions. The biologists say since the inception of this annual hunting opportunity, the population has remained stable, suggesting additional flexibility in the areas that can be hunted and the number available for harvest.
For more information on the 2007 alligator hunting season, visit the WRD Web site at www.gohuntgeorgia.com, contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (229) 426-5267.
 

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