Alabama Senator Claims State is Operating “Illegal Hunting Lottery”

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HUNSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- A state lottery is alive and profitable in Alabama.

According to State Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville), the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has operated an illegal paid lottery since August 2012.

WHNT News 19 spoke with DCNR Commissioner Gunter Guy, Jr. on the phone Monday evening. Guy says it was the first he had heard of the allegations of an illegal lottery made public Monday afternoon by Sanford.

Guy confirms in 2012 and 2013, the DCNR submitted a rule change pursuant to the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act to the Legislative Council on which Senator Sanford sits. Guy says the department has to submit the rule changes every year since 2009 since it went into place.

This request seeks to implement an alligator-hunting season that includes a random drawing for tags. Guy says there have been no changes to the way they give out tags for alligator hunting since that time.

According to Sanford, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources failed to disclose that they intend to charge $6 per chance to receive a tag to hunt alligator.  Multiple chances are available at $6 per new entry, and these entries are unlimited in quantity.

Senator Sanford believes Alabama State Government is operating outside the boundaries of the law by endorsing an illegal paid lottery, putting the state in direct violation of the 1901 Alabama Constitution.

According to Article IV, Section 65, “The legislature shall have no power to authorize lotteries or gift enterprises for any purposes, and shall pass laws to prohibit the sale in this state of lottery or gift enterprise tickets, or tickets in any scheme in the nature of a lottery.”

"Maybe someone could view this as a lottery in its purest form, but the way we see it this is not what we are doing," says Guy.

Guy says he has not received any complaints from anyone about the way they run the management system as it relates to alligators.

"The state of Alabama should not charge citizens for the chance to hunt game.  Hunting is a major contributor to the fabric of our state and a deep-rooted tradition for many Alabamians.  It is deeply troubling that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is willing to nickel and dime hunters for the opportunity to hunt alligators,” said Senator Sanford.

“I believe the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources should refund the illegally garnered monies to the thousands of hunters that the State took advantage of through the random tag ‘pay to play’ lottery.  Paying for a hunting license is one thing, but paying for a chance at one is a ‘lottery’.  I will use all means available to ensure that our State Government follows the Constitution," Sanford wrote in a media release Monday afternoon.

According to data released by the DCNR in 2012 there were 3,185 individuals registered for at least one of the 2012 hunts but many individuals registered for more than one hunt.

Number of times the 3,185 individuals registered for one or more of the 2012 Alabama alligator hunts.
# of Persons # of Registrations
790 --> 1
1,322 --> 2 to 5
720 --> 6 to 10
256 --> 11 to 25
86 --> 26 to 50
10--> 51 to 100
1* --> 101+
(* This person did not get drawn for a 2012 alligator hunt.)

Since the 2009 alligator hunt, there have been 1,054 hunters selected. The following tells
how many individuals were picked for all four hunts, three of the hunts, two of the hunts,
and only 1 hunt. So, only four people have been picked each year since 2009 and 23
were picked three times.

Registration for the 2013 alligator hunts began on June 4, 2013.