Decades ago, hunting alligators was a rarely appreciated activity for most Americans living outside wildlife areas. Apart from the dangers posed by exposure to extremely dangerous reptiles, hunting alligators is not exactly a very profitable career. This was until recent years, when alligator farming became popular and has now become a $60 million industry due to its leather. If you want to dip your toes into the hobby of alligator hunting, you need to consider how much does alligator tags cost?
License Acquisition: Louisiana
Louisiana is one of the most well-known bayou states where the prodigious alligator population thrives. So, it is understandable for it to regulate hunting, which mainly depends on whether you are a resident or not.
The resident application in Louisiana costs $25, while the non-resident application costs $150. Another factor worth noting is the classification of the hunting grounds, which determines whether the bodies of water are private or public.
Residents of Louisiana are allowed to hunt alligators on private lands that they either own or have been granted permission to hunt on. The same goes for public land or lakes, provided that you meet the following conditions:
- Access was granted by way of bidding or lottery.
- You must possess a valid Alligator Hunter License and alligator harvest tags.
- You have to have these license and tags whenever you are hunting.
On the other hand, another individual may harvest alligators on behalf of a licensed alligator hunter. The license this individual must possess is called the “Helper License” and costs $25. Please bear in mind, though that only residents can apply for this kind of license.
Applicants hunting on private lands must present either proof of estate purchase (for landowners) or the owner’s signature on the permission contract (for the visitor) and a map of the territory. For applicants hunting on public lands, the lottery system proves to be the most viable option for residents. Non-residents must be accompanied by a guide.
License Acquisition: Florida
In the state of Florida, the cost of alligator tags is a lot steeper. Understandably so, because, after all, Florida wouldn’t be called the “alligator hunting capital of the world” for nothing.
Residents pay around $272 while non-residents have to pay around $1,022. If you are a resident and a person with a disability, it would only cost you $22.
The license comprises of an alligator trapping license or harvest permit plus two hide validation CITES tags. If you already have a valid alligator trapping license, you would only need to pay $62.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers three programs where one can participate in hunting alligators.
- Statewide Alligator Harvest Program
The Statewide Alligator Harvest Program is a limited entry hunting avenue that entails one applying for an alligator trapping license and acquiring their hunting permits and tags before the end of July.
- Alligator Management Program for Private Lands
The Private Lands Alligator Management Program is basically reserved for landowners and visitors hunting on private property. The private landowner must acquire both an alligator trapping license and an alligator farming license (for collecting alligator eggs).
- Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program
The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program is reserved for those commissioned by the FWC to remove nuisance alligators threatening the populated areas of Florida’s swamp region.
License Acquisition: Alabama
Alligator tags in Alabama are free of charge. Once selected, you and your assistant need to have a valid hunting license when you go alligator hunting.
However, the application entails an administrative fee of $22 in addition to complying with a valid hunting license. The process of acquiring a license might be similar throughout the United States, but the system that grants people the opportunity to hunt is practically different compared to the other previously mentioned states.
In fact, only Alabama residents over 16 years of age can avail of the standard alligator tags. The prospective hunter can only choose one of the designated zones, usually every year in the month of August.
- Southwest Alabama selects 100 people.
- Southeast Alabama has 40 selections.
- West Central Alabama chooses no more than 50 applicants.
- The Lake Eufaula Zone only selects 20 names.
- Coastal zone 50 tags
The random computer selection of hunters in every designated zone typically starts within the month of July. To check if you are one of the selected, kindly check your status at the Alabama DCNR Public Hunts website.
The tags given to each selected hunter are non-transferable.
License Acquisition: South Carolina
In South Carolina, alligator tags entail a $10 non-refundable fee and a $100 alligator permit fee when successfully selected. Just like in the state of Alabama, the applicants in South Carolina are selected randomly by the computer’s lottery system.
There are four designated zones permitted by the state for hunting alligators.
- The Southern Coastlands, is called Unit 1
- Middle Coast is called Unit 2
- All of the Midlands including Lake Marion are grouped into Unit 3
- Pee Dee is called Unit 4
All prospective applicants must hunt within only one unit throughout the hunting season, usually from September to October.
The minimum requirement of alligator size caught has to be four feet or longer in terms of length, and you are only allowed to catch one alligator per permit. Tagging alligators shorter than four feet is illegal.
The extra $100 funding charged to selected applicants is intended to fund the state’s wildlife research and development.
Alligator Hunting in Recent Years
Alligator hunting as a livelihood did not gain popular attention until the History Channel documentary series titled “Swamp People” aired in August 2010. This series presented a clear view of the lifestyle and culture centered on alligator hunting that goes well beyond the stereotypes presented by mainstream media (e.g. movies).
But contrary to the hype generated by the television show, the alligator hunting industry in contemporary times could not hold a candle to its mid 80’s and early 90’s heyday as far as profitability goes.
Another curious element prevalent in the show is the phenomenon called “tagging out.” It brings out a glimpse of how important alligator tags are in the wildlife hunting equation.
In order to understand alligator tags price, one must first understand that tags are not simply something that can be purchased per item. On the contrary, prospective hunters acquire the license to kill alligators, not the number of tags per se.
How Important Are Alligator Tags?
For one thing, tags do not float. One can easily lose them and, worse, they cannot be replaced. For a non-resident being granted only one tag, losing it during the hunting season pretty much means it’s over for them for the year.
Apart from successfully killing a huge alligator, you should always keep the tags secured at all times. If tags are lost, you must file the loss with the state’s wildlife department within 15 days from the conclusion of the season.
If one successfully kills and bags the huge reptile, tags must be placed 6 inches from the tip of the tail immediately before its relocation from the hunting site. Each tag has a locking mechanism that will stay latched onto the alligator’s hide until it is processed for manufacturing.