allig in flowers by weather station.JPG

An alligator rests in the Louisiana marsh.

Picture submitted by Ruth Ellsey, LDWF

As Tropical Storm Harvey rolls through Louisiana during the beginning of the state’s alligator hunting season, state wildlife officials say the storm won't delay the opening, but may cause a dip in the harvest during the first days of the 30-day season.

Bad weather likely deterred both hunters and alligators alike from coming out for Wednesday's opening day for the east side, or eastern zone, of the state. Pounding rain and some flooding in south Louisiana made it difficult for hunters to do the necessary preparations for a successful hunt, said Jeb Linscombe, alligator biologist manager for the state's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

“The season opens (Wednesday), so that means to kill gators (Wednesday) they would’ve had to be setting lines (Tuesday),” Linscombe said. "I suspect there weren’t a lot of people out there."

The heavy rain storms and high winds shouldn’t have a negative impact on the alligators, but a drop in temperature could lead to a decrease in an alligator's appetite, making it less likely to fall prey to a hunter's trap, Linscombe said. 

The hunting season for the west side, or western zone, of the state opens Sept. 6.

The season runs for 30 calendar days in both zones.

Heavy rain and flooding caused the agency to postpone tag distribution for parts of southwest Louisiana in advance of the Sept. 6opening day for the west side of the state.

Nearly 10,000 tags, with each tag representing one alligator, were set to be distributed Tuesday and Wednesday at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Cameron Parish for the majority of hunters who live in Vermilion, Jefferson Davis, and Iberia parishes but the refuge was closed along with the Wildlife and Fisheries office in Iberia Parish, Linscombe said. 

If the refuge is reopened by Monday or the department moves the pickup of the tags to its office in Iberia Parish, Linscombe said, the distribution should be completed in time for a Sept. 6 opening without a delay.

“It’s going to slow down the harvest a little in the first couple days, but I don’t think it’ll impact it at the end,” Linscombe said.

Follow Emma Discher on Twitter, @EmmaDischer.