Louisiana has a lot of alligator habitat including bayous, swamps, lakes, ponds, canals, rivers, wetlands and coastal marshes and is estimated to have over 2 million alligators. Over 80 per cent of these wetlands are privately owned. Before 1962 Louisiana alligator hunting was not regulated and resulted in decreased numbers so much that they were added to the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1967. With the help of the State researching and regulating the industry, they have recuperated their numbers and even exceeded expectations.
Louisianians have been hunting alligators for over 200 years in the wild wetlands of our state. The earliest hunting in great numbers occurred around the early 1800’s. This natural, renewal resource offered families food and they used their skins used for boots and saddles and the oil was used by some machinery. It’s noted that during the Civil War, alligator skins were used to make the soldier’s boots, shoes and saddles.
Louisiana’s alligator programs are known to be one of the world’s most recognizable examples of a wildlife conservation success stories. Our success with this conservation has been used as a model for managing crocodile species all around the world. Since the inception of Louisiana’s program in 1972, over 810,000 wild alligators have been harvested, Today with Louisiana’s lottery system there are over 325 alligator hunters who will harvest about 850 reptiles annually. Overall Louisiana alligator hunters take over 28,000 alligators annually which is less than 2% of their population.
Alligator hunting in Louisiana is done on privately owned lands as well as publicly owned lands and lakes. Everyone must follow the strict regulations put forth by Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The lottery program is used for public lands. Louisiana residents must either own land or have the permission of a land owner whose property is designated as a wetland habitat. Non-residents are allowed to hunt as an alligator sport hunter only when accompanied by a licensed Louisiana guide.
Methods of Hunting Alligators. Hunters may use hook and line, bow and arrow and firearms other than shotguns which are not allowed. As we have seen on Swamp People, most of the hunters use hook and line in various forms. We have seen several of the hunters shoot alligators in the open water. It seems to me the bow and arrow would be most challenging! Did you know that the line they use for the hook and line method is a minimum of 300 lb test. The bait varies from chicken, melt, fish and secret stinky ingredients concocked by the hunters. Once a hunter’s quota has been reached, they must remove all remaining hooks and lines as well as releasing any live alligators over their quota. Sounds like fun! All alligators must be legally tagged and all unused tags must be returned to the state.