MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Sunset on Thursday will mark the beginning of alligator hunting season for three hunting zones in south Alabama.

Across five regions of the state, 260 Alabamians were selected for an alligator possession tag, allowing each hunter to harvest one alligator.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Alligator Biologist Chris Nix said the American alligator was once at risk for extinction, but not anymore.

“The American alligator is really a success story when it comes to managing wildlife,” Nix said.

Over the decades, the species population has grown enough that Alabama can offer the hunting season. It’s still a federally protected species but no longer on the endangered species list.

“We hope to continue this and grow it, but we can’t jump ahead and offer a ton of tags. We have to keep the resource first and foremost,” Nix said.

Nix said the department received about 5,500 applications for this season, which takes places in five hunting zones in the southern part of the state.

“It’s a very, very popular hunt, probably the most popular hunt we offer as a department,” he said.

Those 260 approved hunters have to take an alligator training course with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources before they can attempt to capture the animal.

Capture methods are limited to hand-held snares, snatch hooks, harpoons and bowfishing equipment. No bait is allowed.

Hunting dates and times for three of the five zones take place over two weekends and between sunset to sunrise. For more specifics on the regulations for each zone, check out Outdoor Alabama’s website.

2006 was the first year Alabama offered an alligator hunt, primarily in Baldwin and Mobile counties.