By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Beginning on Monday, August 30, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division will offer a one-click solution for those who want to hunt feral swine at night.
The new law that allows nighttime hunting of feral swine and coyotes went into effect on July 1, 2021. When the 2021-2022 licenses become available Monday, hunters can choose from a variety of all-access packages, including the “Hog Wild” package that gives hunters all the license privileges needed to take advantage of the new nighttime hunting opportunities.
“When the nighttime feral swine and coyote hunting license was passed, it seemed like a good idea to create a new license package,” said WFF Assistant Director Fred Harders. “In that package, residents and non-residents will be able to click one button and purchase a small-game license, a bait privilege license, which would allow folks to use bait while hunting feral swine at night, and the nighttime license. We felt that those three licenses would be what most people would like to purchase.
“Of course, the price will vary depending on whether you are a resident or non-resident. This will allow that individual to just click that package instead of going in and figuring out what they need. It’s a convenience for people who would like to hunt feral swine at night over bait and not the regular all-game hunter.”
Harders said hunters who wish to purchase the all-game hunting license will need to go through the regular procedure of buying separate licenses to be able to hunt feral swine and coyotes at night.
Harders also reminds hunters that all of the current year’s licenses expire on Tuesday, August 31. Licenses for the 2021-2022 seasons will be available on Monday, August 30.
“We pre-sell these licenses for the coming year for several reasons,” he said. “Several seasons open early in September. We don’t want to make it difficult for hunters to participate in those seasons. Also, with all the licenses expiring the same day, the volume at the beginning of the year is very heavy, so we want to spread out the demand to ensure the license system performs as designed.”
Harders said since the nighttime licenses became available this summer, about 700 hunters have taken advantage of the new opportunity.
“We expect pretty good interest in the nighttime license for the upcoming year,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how many we sell the opening month. Whether it will be as popular as the bait privilege license, time will tell.”
During the current license year, WFF sold about 160,000 resident bait privilege licenses and more than 17,000 to non-residents. A bait privilege license is required for anyone who wishes to hunt deer or feral swine over bait, which includes corn and other food, protein supplements, mineral blocks, juices and sprays. Unlike other licenses, the bait privilege license and the nighttime hunting license do not allow for exemptions for age or landowner status.
When purchasing the licenses for the upcoming seasons, don’t forget about the collectible hard-card licenses that are available for an additional fee of $5. Seven new hard-card license designs will be available next week.
As the fall hunting seasons approach, WFF Director Chuck Sykes said the news about chronic wasting disease (CWD) is encouraging, but WFF will remain vigilant in trying to prevent its spread into Alabama. Positive cases have been reported in Mississippi and Tennessee.
“So far it’s moving slowly, like we told people it would if it wasn’t artificially transported,” Sykes said. “It’s inched a mile or two closer to us, but we’ve got several miles to go, and we have a major river system as a barrier. I think we’re as fortunate as we can be right now on the CWD front.”
Freezers that allow hunters to drop off their deer heads at self-service sample stations are located throughout the state and are available to receive samples for CWD testing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/cwd-sampling for a map of sampling locations.