Christine Flores, wife of The Daily Review Outdoor Writer John K. Flores, hauls in an alligator she harvested on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area during her lottery hunt two years ago. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of John K. Flores)

LDWF taking applications for 2017 alligator lottery hunts

When it comes to apex predators, Louisiana isn’t at all like other states.
When thinking about dangerous game animals such as grizzly bears, timber wolves and mountain lions, you’re never going to run into these species in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
Oh sure, you may have a close encounter with a Louisiana black bear, but chances are, it’ll probably be running in the opposite direction when you become aware it’s even there.
This has been my experience on several occasions when we shared space in the same neck of the woods. What’s more, the most recent just a week ago while doing a little bird watching on Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge.
Let’s face it: the American alligator is Louisiana’s most notor i o u s p r e d a t o r. Moreover, if you watch any amount of cable television, particularly reality programs, there is just enough hyperbole that makes hunting them intriguing.
And, why not? There should be some excitement or else why do it? Right?
Nearly a decade ago, the opportunity for the general public to harvest an alligator just w a s n ’ t t h e r e . Alligators, by and large, were and continue to be managed commercially in the state of Louisiana.
In 2008, that all changed when the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries began offering tags to the public on state controlled and managed lands through a lottery system. Moreover, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries continues to look for and increase recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women.
In 2015 the department made 897 tags available on 45 state public lakes and wildlife management areas for 349 hunters. It was pretty much the same in 2016.
In 2017, the number has grown to 937 tags made available to 363 recreational alligator hunters.
One of the public lands available to recreational alligator hunters is in St. Mary Parish. Ten lucky lottery applicants will be allowed to harvest three alligators each on the Atchafalaya D e l t a Wi l d l i f e Management Area.
However, there is a process.
First, Louisiana residents 16 years of age and older must submit an application along with a non-refundable $5 application fee to t h e L o u i s i a n a Department of Wildlife and Fisheries no later than July 5. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries posts the application success rate for its public lakes and Wildlife Management Areas.
According to the department’s website, there is a 15 percent chance to draw out for the Atchafalaya D e l t a Wi l d l i f e Management Area.
Considering I have put in for this coastal non-game region twice and my wife once, where we’ve both drawn tags in recent years, I’d say we are simply luckier than others.
If you’re lucky enough to draw out, the next thing is you’ll be required to purchase a $25 alligator hunting license.
Additionally, you’ll be required to pay a $40 per tag fee, bringing your total cash layout to $150 to hunt alligators.
Finally, all successful applicants are required to attend a mandatory training and Q&A session. The department will take hunters through training on how to set lines for alligators — including suggested hook and line sizes — to how to skin and handle your animals and suggested points of sale.
Jeb Linscombe, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist manager for the Alligator Program, said, “We have a video that shows the whole process. Before we allow people to go out there, we want to make sure they know what they’re doing.”
Hunters may wish to keep their hides and have them turned into leather. Two tanneries available that alligator hunters may consider during the season are American Tannery & Leather, who purchase alligators in Breaux Bridge during the season, or Reptile Tannery of Lafayette. Both are reputable and provide customers a quality product.
Concerning prices, Linscombe said the wild alligator harvest may be down this year due to prices, but the department really doesn’t know until the season gets underway, because things can change.
Therefore, everyone simply will have to wait and see.
When it comes to success, all of Louisiana’s coastal wildlife management areas are good, and most successful lottery applicants tag out.
If you’re looking for size, it’s the backwater swamps and sloughs of some of the north Louisiana public lakes that produce some big gators.
In 2015, Christina Rivers, 21, drew out for two of 16 lottery tags available on Toledo Bend. She and her father, Roger Rivers, 40, tagged two 14-foot, 1-inch matching alligators on the lake’s north end.
With five coastal nongame resource wildlife management areas, 15 upland wildlife management areas and 25 public lakes, never has there been more opportunity for the public to obtain Alligator Harvest Program tags. Applications are available at www.wlf. louisiana.gov/hunting/ lottery-hunts or request an application by phone for the Coastal Non-Game Region Division by calling 337373-0032.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Flores is The Daily Review’s Outdoor Writer. If anyone has an anecdote, recipe or story they wish to share, they can contact Flores at 985395-5586, gowiththeflo@ cox.net or message him on visit his Facebook page, Gowiththeflo Outdoors.

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