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Gator season opens Sept. 1
Deadline for hunting permits approaches
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    Hunters hoping to bag an alligator this year have just a few more days to apply for a permit.
    Alligator season is coming up, but hunters can’t just take any gator from any place. There are limits and rules, said Greg Waters, the alligator program coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
    The 2012 alligator hunting season is Sept. 1 through Oct. 7.
    The deadline to apply for an alligator permit for the 2012 season in Georgia is July 31. Hunters must apply for an alligator quota hunt online with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division before midnight on that date, said John Bowers, the assistant chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division.
    Selected hunters will receive a temporary harvest tag, or permit, and information packet by mail in early August.
    “The alligator hunt is consistently one of the most popular quota opportunities in Georgia, with thousands applying each year,” Bowers said.
Waters said the alligator population in Georgia is healthy and growing, but they are still protected.
    “Those who are selected should have a great crop of animals,” Bowers said. “We have seen numerous alligators reaching anywhere from 11 to 13 feet and longer.”
    Georgia has nine alligator zones. Bulloch, Bryan, Evans, Effingham and Candler counties are in Zone 8, while Zone 9 includes Burke, Emanuel, Jenkins and Screven counties.
    Bowers said that of the top five largest gators harvested in each zone last year, all were 11 feet or longer.
“The top 12 alligators overall were more than 13 feet long -- the longest being 13 feet, 9 inches from Decatur County,” he said. “The heaviest alligator harvested weighed 860 pounds and was taken in Quitman County.”
    To apply for a permit, visit georgiawildlife.com/hunting/quota and follow the directions, including creating an account if needed.
    The cost of an alligator permit is $50, and hunters also will need to have a small game license, Waters said.
Out-of-state hunters who are selected through a lottery process must pay $200 for a permit.
    Those who have problems with alligators in their ponds or near their homes should remember that shooting the reptiles without a permit is illegal.
    “In Bulloch County, you should call the DNR office in Fitzgerald and tell them about your complaint,” Waters said
    If the alligator is less than 4 feet long, DNR won’t bother it, as it doesn’t pose a threat to humans or pets.
But anything larger, and rangers will either relocate the gator or have a licensed trapper remove it.
    The Fitzgerald DNR Wildlife Resources office may be reached at (229) 426-5267.
    For more information on alligator season or other hunting issues, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com.

    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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