Decades ago, hunting alligators is 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 (whereas compared to dentistry or real estate business). In fact, 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 7-year running 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 are alligator tags in the wildlife hunting equation.
In order to understand alligator tags price, one must first understand that tags are not simply something which can be purchased per item.
On the contrary, the prospective hunters acquire the license to kill alligators and not the number of tags per se. The next part of the article explains the ways to acquire a license and the tags that go along with it.
License Acquisition: Louisiana
Louisiana is one of the most well-known bayou states where prodigious alligator population thrives. But in order to understand how one can acquire the license to kill these dangerous reptiles, one must bear in mind that the alligator tags price for residents is different for non-residents.
The resident application in Louisiana costs $25 while the non-resident application entails $125. Another factor worth noting is the classification of the hunting grounds. Applicants hunting on private lands must present either a proof of estate purchase (for landowners) or the owner’s signature on the permission contract (for the visitor) and the 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. Residents pay around $250 to $350 while non-residents have to pay an average of $1,000. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers three programs where one can participate in hunting alligators.
The Statewide Alligator Harvest Program is a limited entry hunting avenue that entails one to apply for an alligator trapping license and acquire their hunting permits and tags before the end of July.
The Private Lands Alligator Management Program is basically reserved for landowners and visitors hunting on private property. The private land owner must acquire both an alligator trapping license and an alligator farming license (for collecting alligator eggs).
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
The cost of alligator tags in Alabama entails an administrative fee of $22 in addition to complying with the 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 other previously mentioned states.
In effect, only Alabama residents above 16 years of age can avail for the standard alligator tags price. The prospective hunter can only choose one of the 4 designated zones usually every annual month of August. The random computer selection of hunters in every designated zone starts every July 1st of the year.
Southwest Alabama selects 150 people. Southeast Alabama has 40 selections. West Central Alabama chooses no more than 50 applicants. Lastly, the Lake Eufaula Zone only selects 20 names. The tags given to each selected hunters are non-transferable.
License Acquisition: South Carolina
In South Carolina, the cost of alligator tags entails a $10 non-refundable fee and $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, Pee Dee is called Unit 4, and all of the Midlands including Lake Marion are grouped into Unit 3. All prospective applicants can 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. Tagging alligators shorter than four feet is illegal. The extra $100 funding entailed for selected applicants is intended to fund the state’s wildlife research and development.
About Tagging And Alligator Tags
In one of the episodes of the show “Swamp People,” the hunter named Bruce accidentally dropped his tag off the boat. His dog Tyler leaped into the gator-infested water to retrieve it. What seemed peculiar in that scene was how Bruce did not seem to go out of his way to rescue his dog. For discerning viewers, it gives them a clear idea on how important tags are in their line of business.
For one thing, tags do not float. One can easily lose it and worse, they cannot be replaced. For a non-resident being granted only one tag, losing it the hunting season is pretty much over for him or her. Apart from successfully killing a huge alligator, one should always keep the tags secured at all times. If tags are lost, he or she 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.