Mississippi alligator hunters will have the same number of tags, in the same number of regions, with the same boundaries for the 2017 public water season this summer, but gone is the first-come, first-serve drawing process under a plan approved in March by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Alligator program coordinator Ricky Flynt of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks said there were some problems with the online process used the last two years.
“We knew things weren’t working very well, and it wasn’t anything within our control, but when there are problems beyond your control you have to punt and do something different,” Flynt said. “We were proactive. We brainstormed, outlined it and then presented (a rough plan) to (the Commission on MDWFP) in October and they approved it. We presented the final plan to the Commission in March and made it official.”
All 920 permits have been sold in less than 45 minutes the past two years, but not without glitches for many of the over 6,000 applicants. The 2016 glitch involved a third party, credit card approval company that got backed up and left customers wondering if their application had been kicked out.
“Some of them finished the application process, went to pay, entered the information and hit send and instead of it being completed, they got the spinning wheel indicating the purchase was in process,” Flynt said. “They were still in queue, they just didn’t know it.”
And in a race to get a tag, impatience caused them to either back up a page or start the process over.
“That negated all that they had done, put the permit back into inventory and moved them to the end of the line and the start of the process,” he said. “You can’t blame them for being frustrated.”
This year, the process changes to a weeklong application period that will be set for June, not July. There is no application fee, but there is a $1.29 handling fee that will be required whether one applies online, on the phone or at a license point of sale. Each applicant will be limited to applying for one permit in one zone — no applying in multiple zones.
“Part of the application process is providing an email address and that is important,” Flynt said. “When you apply, whether online, phone or in person, you will be given a chance to make sure the information is all correct. If not, you will have a week to get it fixed.
“Then the next week, a third party will conduct the drawing and will notify the 920 permit winners by email. They will have one week to accept the permit and purchase it for $200. After the deadline to complete that, a second drawing will take place to fill any permits that have gone unclaimed.”
The season will be the same length, always opening at noon on the final Friday in August, and ending 10 days later at noon on a Monday. This year that is Aug. 25-Sept. 4 (Labor Day).