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

Oklahoma Wildlife Department wants to know more about alligators

State wildlife officials want to know more about Oklahoma alligators.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently announced that it is partnering with Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and Southwestern Adventist University in Keene. , Texas, for a two-year research study of alligators in southeastern Oklahoma.

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

The core of the state’s alligator population is located in the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in far southeastern Oklahoma. State wildlife officials say southeast Oklahoma is at the western edge of the American alligator’s home range.

Holmes said university researchers will try to find out how many alligators inhabit Oklahoma and if they are spreading to areas outside of Red Slough.

“We’re guessing they are because there’s pretty good habitat in that area, but how much and how far away?” Holmes said. “That’s the kind of stuff we want to know.”

Researchers will trap and tag alligators with transmitters to learn about their movements in McCurtain County and beyond.

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An alligator hunt one day?

Robert Bastarache, a US Forest Service biologist in southeast Oklahoma, said on social media that the study would also help the Wildlife Department determine whether to allow alligator hunting, but Holmes said said that was not the purpose of the project.

“This research is not necessarily motivated to have a hunting season,” Holmes said. “We just need to get the basics before we can consider something like this. There’s a lot we don’t know about American alligators in Oklahoma.

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