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Lake life

Get some Gator…

The “Swamp People” aren’t the only ones that get some gator in Louisiana.

The popularity of gator hunting is, no doubt, on the rise for lots of reasons. One has to be the popular reality TV show. The East Zone Louisiana alligator season is scheduled to open Wednesday, Aug. 28, followed by the West Zone opening on Sept. 4. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be issuing tags to licensed hunters through Sept. 4. Over 38,000 tags will be issued and an estimated 34,000 alligators will be harvested during the 2013 season. The newfound interest has also spurred the economy in a lot of south Louisiana areas, where hunting lodges are now selling gator hunts, just like duck hunts.

gatorWith the good of increased alligator season interests has also come some bad. Arrests for illegally taking gators without permits or out of season have almost tripled — from 33 in 2007 to 85 last year. So far this year there have been 54 poaching arrests. Wildlife and Fisheries agents have said that some poachers said they were just doing what they’d seen on TV and didn’t know about Louisiana’s regulations. I believe there is an old saying about “ignorance is no excuse”. Well, it used to be that way anyway…

Harvested alligators will range from 4 to 12 feet in length with the average size estimated to be 7 feet, 6 inches. According to LDWF Alligator Program Manager Noel Kinler, “There is good demand for alligator skins and meat, and we expect to see a good harvest season with prices at least equal to last year’s average of $23.50 per foot. We will issue an estimated 3,000 licenses to Louisiana residents and over 500 to non-resident sport hunters.”

Like other outdoor activities, youngsters participate at a very early age since alligator hunting is often a family affair and women also participate as hunters during the alligator season.  Lifelong hunters still enjoy the challenge into their 70s and 80s, and alligator hunting leases are passed down from father to son to grandson.

For more information, contact Noel Kinler at 337-373-0032 or nkinler@wlf.la.gov or Lance Campbell at 337-373-0032 or ljcampbell@wlf.la.gov . The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

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