Albany -- It's been 40 years since hunting gators was outlawed in Georgia. But that may soon change.
Because gators are now longer endangered, gator hunting may again be made legal. Alligator hunting was legal in Georgia until the early 1960-s, when it was outlawed. Alligators were taken off the endangered species list in 1987, and the population has thrived to more than 200,000 today.
Now classified a Game Animal in Georgia, work is underway to legalize gator hunting for two weeks next September. The Department of Natural Resources has drawn up plans for four sites for gator hunting. At Lake Eufala, Lake Seminole , the Grand Bay Wildlife Reserve north of Valdosta, and in 9 coastal counties.
Wildlife Biologist Steve Ruckel said "They are like deer and turkey and other wildlife species. They are a renewable resource if we handle them properly. We can take some of them that would be otherwise lost to natural mortality and not affect the population at all."
The DNR proposes alligators could be captured with snares, harpoons, or snatch hooks. Bang sticks or 22 pistols would be used to kill the alligators. Only gators over 4 feet in length could be hunted. And there would be a limit on how many can be killed.
Ruckel said "A lot of young guys would like to try their hand at it. We've been getting a lot of calls and interest in it over the year."
Three public meetings will be held this month to find out how you feel about legalized alligator hunting in Georgia. Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana currently have alligator hunting seasons.