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Arkansas hunters set alligator harvest record

BY Randy Zellers

ON 09-27-2023


Sept. 27, 2023

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — The 2023 Arkansas Alligator Season drew to a close at sunrise Monday, and, when the smoke on the water cleared, hunters had tallied 202 legally harvested alligators, swamping the old record of 174 taken in 2020.

AGFC Biologist Mark Barbee, who works out of the Monticello Regional Office and has coordinated the season since its inception in 2007 said the increased harvest was not surprising as more tags were issued this year than ever before as well.

“It’s not really indicative of a population explosion,” Barbee said. “We added a few more alligators to the private land quotas this year to let people with alligators on their properties remove them through the hunt instead of it becoming a nuisance wildlife issue.”

According to harvest totals, private land hunters took full advantage of the opportunity, filling all quotas by hunt’s end.

Public land hunters, however, only filled half of the allotted permits available to them. Barbee explained that the 50 percent success rate isn’t unusual for the public land hunt, however.

“Every year we’ll have hunters who draw the public land permits and hold out for a trophy alligator,” Barbee said. “Some won’t settle for less, and others may wait too long to chase a smaller alligator before the season is over. Either way, we always have some public land hunters who end the season with unfilled tags.”

Alligator hunting is by permit only in Arkansas. The AGFC issued 42 public hunting permits through a public draw system, with hunting allowed only on designated areas of the Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D’Arc WMA, Sulphur River WMA, Little River below Millwood Lake, Millwood Lake, Lake Erling and the Lower Arkansas River Wetland Complex. All other public areas are closed to alligator hunting.

Alligator hunting on private property is managed through a quota system. Anyone may purchase a private land alligator hunting permit, but hunting season will end early as soon as the quota for their Alligator Zone is met. This year’s quotas were 71 in Alligator Management Zone 1 (southwest Arkansas), seven in Alligator Management Zone 2 (south-central Arkansas) and 95 in Alligator Management Zone 3 (southeast Arkansas). The quota for zone 2 was met during the first weekend of the hunt. The other two zones closed after Saturday night of the second weekend.

Alligator hunting in Arkansas is open from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise during the last two weekends each September. All alligators must be snared or harpooned by hand and subdued before being dispatched. Visit for more information.


CUTLINE: Melissa Phillips harvested this 12-foot, 2-inch alligator she harvested with the help of her husband Heath Phillips and sister Shannon Vickers on the first night of Arkansas’s 2023 Alligator Season. The alligator weighed approximately 530 lbs. Photo Courtesy Melissa Phillips.  

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