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OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Time to apply to hunt alligators

by Bryan Hendricks | June 23, 2022 at 2:02 a.m.

Until midnight June 30, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is accepting applications to participate in the alligator season, which will run Sept. 16-19 and Sept. 23-26.

To hunt alligators on public land, one must apply for one of the six hunting locations within two of three open Alligator Management Zones in Arkansas. There are 43 permits available for the public drawing.

In Alligator Management Zone 1, the commission will award 12 permits for Millwood Lake, four permits for Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D'Arc Lake, five permits for Little River Wildlife Management Area and one permit for Sulphur River WMA.

In Zone 3, the commission will award 21 permits for the Lower Arkansas River Wetland Complex, the Arkansas River backwaters near Arkansas Post.

Zone 2 does not have any public draw opportunities. Alligator hunting there is regulated by a quota system on private property.

A permit authorizes its holder harvest one alligator. A legal alligator must be at least 4 feet long.

Applicants must be at least 16 years of age the day that the hunt begins. Only Arkansas residents or holders of an Arkansas Lifetime Sportsman's Permit may apply. Applicants with 18 or more AGFC violation points are ineligible to apply. Alligator hunt applicants must pay a $5 nonrefundable processing fee at the time of their application.

Anyone who has access to private land in Alligator Zones 1, 2 or 3 may purchase a private land alligator tag in addition to their big-game hunting license. They may hunt during alligator season until the quota is met for their zone.

Successful applicants and private land hunters must also go through an online hunt orientation before going to the field. The orientation lays out the most important details and frequently asked questions about the hunt.

For more information about application procedures and alligator hunting regulations, visit

Conservation legislation

Major hunting and conservation organizations have praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Recovering America's Wildlife Act (HR-2773, or RAWA) on June 16.

The bill, which passed 231-190, would provide $1.39 billion for states, territories and tribes to restore habitat for species of greatest conservation concern, including more than 12,000 species already identified by federally approved State Wildlife Action Plans.

Austin Booth, director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said RAWA is a once in a generation opportunity to increase funding for game and non-game wildlife.

"It is our duty to our children to leave our wild places better than we find them, so that they can one day tell us about how valuable conservation is to their lives as well."

Each state has identified species that need additional efforts to prevent further population declines, but most states can't afford to implement the strategies. Many sportsmen disregard non-game species like eastern collared lizards and butterflies, but they are key indicator species for habitat that also supports deer, turkey and upland game birds.

Tony A. Schoonen, chief executive officer of the Boone and Crockett Club, said that the goals of the legislation has long been a priority for the hunting conservation committee.

Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO, said that the RAWA follows a proven formula for habitat conservation.

"We've seen other programs, like the Pittman-Robertson Act, utilize this very same conservation methodology to great success," Putnam said. "The end result will be healthier habitat that greatly benefits waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as generations of sportsmen and women to come."

Gloria Tom, director of the Navajo Nation's Fish and Wildlife Department and member of the National Wildlife Federation's Board of Directors, said that the legislation will empower tribes to prioritize wildlife conservation on tribal lands. The bill will devote $97.5 million each year to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts by tribal wildlife programs and on tribal lands.

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