Lasting heat of summer and stable conditions paid off for Arkansas hunters lucky enough to draw a tag in the 2019 alligator season.
Of 147 tags available, 84 hunters managed to successfully take an alligator during the two-weekend season.
The harvest is on par with last year’s alligator hunt, in which 81 alligators were checked, but falls short of the record set in 2017 of 94 gators taken.
This is the first year to see alligators harvested in Alligator Management Zone 2, which encompasses south-central Arkansas, including Columbia County. The zone opened to harvest last year with five permits available, but no permit holders successfully harvested an alligator. This year five permits were again available, and two hunters were able to close the deal.
This year, Alligator Management Zone 3 in southwest Arkansas took top honors in harvest with 50 gator tags filled. Two alligators in excess of 12 feet were taken during the two weekends of the 2019 season in Zone 3.
Although Alligator Management Zone 1 in Southeast Arkansas saw only 32 alligators harvested, it was responsible for the largest alligator of the year, a 12-foot, 8-inch male taken on public property. This alligator fell more than a foot short of the state record (a 13-foot, 10-inch gator taken in Zone 3 in 2015), but was still large and weighed hundreds of pounds. Two more alligators measuring 12-feet, 4-inch and 12 feet 1 inch were taken in Zone 1 as well.
Mark Barbee, assistant wildlife regional supervisor for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Monticello, said the hunt went very well this year and weather was excellent. There were some reports of ponds and lakes beginning to dry before the season, which caused a few large alligators found before the hunt to relocate during the season and evade hunters. Additionally, the high flows and flooding that has taken place during the last year may have displaced some alligators or temporarily blocked access to sections of habitat by hunters. No wildlife violations and no accidents were reported.
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