Alligator Hunt Will Be Held Along Pascagoula River

Alligators enjoy a protected life at the Gator Ranch in Moss Point. Hunters won't likely bother them. But storms can be threatening.

There were 250 alligators here before Katrina.

"Every one of them got out because the water got over the fence. Now we've got approximately sixty of them."

Cliff Thaggard knows most of the gators by name.  He enjoys sharing them with a curious public.

"It's actually a fascinating job to me.  It's fun teaching people about 'em."

He's not surprised the state is expanding its alligator season to include a limited hunt along the Pascagoula River.

Big gators can mean big bucks.

"Just like the poachers that come around here. They come out for the hide. The skins. The meat. The meat is very delicious. The hide can be worth anything from a hundred dollars to four thousand dollars. So, they're getting a good profit off it." said Thaggard.

He says inexperienced hunters may also be getting more than they counted on.

"It's actually hard to kill an alligator with a shotgun on top of its head. You've got to shoot them in a certain spot to kill them, unless you shoot it several times. But a lot of people just catch them with a noose around their neck and pull them in on the boat and then cut them up from there."

While hunters on the nearby Pascagoula River will be stalking a prize gator this fall, these in captivity at the ranch, won't have to worry much.

"Nobody's going to be hunting them here," said their keeper.

Although its a first for South Mississippi, this is actually the third year for alligator season in Mississippi.

There were gator seasons along the Pearl River and Ross Barnett Reservoir in 2005 and '06.