One Republican state senator is accusing the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources of operating an illegal state lottery.
Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said the conservation department has operated an illegal paid lottery since August 2012, when he said the department began using a lottery system for alligator hunting licenses in which entrants paid $6 each time they entered the drawing. People can enter as many times as they want, he said, if they pay $6 each time.
Sanford said the department submitted a rule change to the Legislative Council, which he serves on, requesting a random drawing for tags for alligator season. He said that the department did not inform lawmakers on the council that the department intended to charge $6 for each entry and that the entries were unlimited.
“The state of Alabama should not charge citizens for the chance to hunt game,” Sanford said in a statement. “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.”
Sanford vowed to use all means available “to ensure that our state government follows the Constitution,” which prohibits “tickets in any scheme in the nature of a lottery.”
“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,” Sanford argued. “Paying for a hunting license is one thing, but paying for a chance at one is a ‘lottery.’”
This is not the first time Sanford has been critical of the department. He has criticized the department for a requirement mandating that deer and turkey hunters report their harvest within 24 hours.
Conservation Commissioner Gunter Guy could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.
Sanford’s office did not send out the release until after business hours on Monday.
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen