Thursday, October 6, 2005

Alligator season successful

Mississippi’s first legal alligator hunting season closed last Sunday and reports were positive, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP).

Out of 1,205 applicants from all over the state, 50 were randomly drawn by computer to participate in the historical event. After taking a mandatory class on alligators and alligator hunting, the permittees were allowed to try their luck at harvesting a gator in the areas north of Mississippi Highway 43 and south of Coal Bluff in Ross Barnett Reservoir and Pearl River.

Forty-one permittees participated in the hunt that spanned two weekends during Sept. Out of those 41 permittees, 30 alligators were harvested (64 percent males, 36 percent females) giving a 73 percent success rate.

The largest alligator harvested measured 11 feet and two inches, and the average length of all alligators harvested was eight feet and four inches. An additional 32 alligators were caught and released for either not meeting the four foot length requirement or because permittees were holding out for a larger alligator.          

Randy Tackett, of Madison, was the first permittee to bring in a harvested alligator during the hunt. Rusty Rumley and Wade Robinson, both of Brandon, were on Tackett’s hunting team on the evening of Sept. 16. The alligator taken by Tackett’s team measured exactly eight feet in length.

“It seemed like a long fight, but it probably only lasted about five or ten minutes,” Robinson said.

“There were two fights actually. The first fight was after we snagged it, and the second was after we put the snare on it,” Tackett added.

When asked what they planned to do with their harvested alligator, Tackett said, “We’re going to clean it and eat it.”

With alligator population numbers where they are now, officials agree that a harvest can be supported.

“Everything went extremely well, and we had all positive comments,” alligator program leader Ricky Flynt said.

According to Flynt and chief of wildlife Larry Castle, the Department is examining the results of this year’s hunt and working on a plan to expand the new alligator hunting season to other parts of the state.


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