Alabama has thousands of acres of public land set aside for recreational and conservation purposes. These lands include state parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests. Another category of public land is the wildlife management area (WMA). Such tracts are managed primarily for hunting but are also open to the public for fishing and other outdoor activities. The WMA designation was established by statute by the Alabama legislature in 1975 to provide additional hunting and recreational opportunities for Alabama citizens. Alabama now contains 36 wildlife management areas encompassing more than 768,000 acres open for hunting and recreation. These WMAs cover all areas of the state and range in size from the 6,700-acre Autauga Community Hunting area to the huge Black Warrior WMA that is more than 98,000 acres. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division manages these WMAs, overseeing programs to enhance wildlife populations and the hunting experience and enforcing usage regulations. Funding for the staffing and management of WMAs comes primarily from revenues generated by the purchase of special WMA hunting licenses.
Although some acreage in the WMAs is publicly owned, much of the land is made available to the public through partnerships with private and corporate landowners. These entities have signed agreements with the state of Alabama to provide Alabama hunters with access to hundreds of thousands of acres. Additionally, government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and U.S. Corps of Engineers own and allow access to a significant portion of the lands in the WMAs. Land purchases for additional acreage are supported by funds received from the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust.
Each of the WMAs offer large areas where hunters can pursue small game such as squirrels, rabbits, doves, wild turkey, and quail and large game such as white-tail deer, coyote, bobcat, and fox. The diversity of habitats contained within the boundaries of the WMAs offers a wide variety of hunting experiences. The Crow Creek, Seven Mile Island, and Raccoon Creek WMAs, which are located on Alabama waterways or encompass large lakes and wetlands, provide fertile hunting areas for waterfowl, whereas WMAs in the state's upland and mid-state regions are popular for deer and turkey hunting. Additionally, 17 of the WMAs now have increasing resident populations of feral hogs; they have become a nuisance in some areas because they are very destructive to habitat. Hunting of feral hogs is allowed on many WMAs, although seasons and regulations may vary by individual WMA.
Organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and other non-profit conservation
organizations have partnered with the state to provide additional funding for habitat enhancement, land purchases, and other
projects as well as providing expertise and additional staffing to assist with land purchases and with projects on WMAs. The
WMAs are open to the public for general recreation use year round. Hunting seasons are set by the Alabama Department of Conservation
and Natural Resources and vary by WMA and by type of game being hunted.
"Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Regulations." Montgomery: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (published annually).
Thomas V. Ress
Published November 25, 2008
Last updated October 18, 2010