The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife wants to know more about the alligator

State wildlife officials want to learn more about the Oklahoma alligator.

The The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department recently announced its partnership with Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, on a two-year research study of alligators in southeastern Oklahoma.

“A lot of people have no idea there are alligators in Oklahoma,” said Micah Holmes, assistant chief of information and education for the Wildlife Department.

The heart of the state’s alligator population is located in the Red Slough Wildlife Management District in far southeastern Oklahoma. State wildlife officials say southeastern Oklahoma is on the western edge of the American alligator’s habitat range.

Holmes said researchers from universities will try to find out how many alligators call home to Oklahoma and whether they are spreading to areas outside of Red Slough.

“We suppose it exists because there is a very good habitat in all of that area, but to what extent and to what extent?” Holmes said. “That’s the kind of thing we want to know.”

Researchers will trap and tag the crocodile with transmitters to learn about its movements in and out of McCurtain County.

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State wildlife officials are launching a research project to find out how many alligators live in southeastern Oklahoma and where they reside.

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Robert Bastarach, a biologist with the US Forest Service in Southeast Oklahoma, stated on social media that the research study would also help the Wildlife Department decide whether to allow alligator hunting, but Holmes said that is not the goal of the project.

“This research is not an incentive to have a hunting season necessarily,” Holmes said. “We just need to get basic background information before we can even think of something like that. There’s a lot we don’t know about the American alligator in Oklahoma.”

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