DO WE KILL BIG ALLIGATORS?
from how many queries I get about alligators, they are of interest to
lots of people.
I recently read about a 10-foot-long alligator that was shot in front
of tourists on a beach in South Carolina. One of the quotes I saw from
the nuisance animal removal group that killed it was that
it would have been too dangerous to try to remove the alligator
and shoot it elsewhere. My question is why did they need to remove
it in the first place? Why not leave it alone? I have never heard of
alligators eating people on beaches!
I had not heard about this particular event but Im aware of similar
situations in which an alligator was traveling overland and encountered
a bunch of humans in which it has no interest other than getting
away from them as quickly as possible. Several factors may have led
to what sounds like the unnecessary killing of an alligator.
some people have an irrational fear of alligators (and a lot of other
wildlife) due to ignorance about animal behavior. That fear can turn
to panic if the person actually comes face-to-face with a wild animal.
Most people in the United States no longer live in areas where they
are likely to encounter wildlife.
as they have has come from overhyped TV shows that inaccurately portray
the big reptiles and many other kinds of wild animals as dangerous,
aggressive creatures from which we must be protected.
public officials become involved in incidents such as the gator on the
beach because they do not want to be held responsible should anyone
be injured (which usually happens because of unsafe, unnecessary, and
often just plain stupid behavior).
the official in charge hires someone to handle the problem. This typically
means paying a private contractor to do the job, which in this case
means someone who can deal with an alligator.
with the gator could mean coaxing it to trundle off to a nearby wetland.
An alligator on a beach is neither an abnormal situation nor a newsworthy
one. I have seen gators go into the ocean surf and even swim in the
is usually a short-lived one, and they soon return to freshwater systems
where they spend most of their time. Unfortunately, thanks to news media
sensationalism, some people have the idea that an alligator coming back
from a swim must be dealt with on the spot. In such cases, dealing
with the gator generally means killing it.
an alligator that encounters a crowd of people would normally want nothing
more than to get away from them. If left to its own devices and given
a clear escape route, it would soon be gone.
thats not what you want if you are in the nuisance animal
removal profession or are a TV news crew filming the event. A
calm, low-key approach that doesnt draw a crowd is not likely
to be the norm.
a gator moving overland is a natural event. Unfortunately, in rare instances
alligators can be of legitimate concern because people have fed them
which, incidentally, is illegal.
are closely related to birds, so they quickly learn where a free meal
can be acquired. Then, when they see a person, they expect food. Once
gators lose their fear of humans, someone will eventually declare them
and other states will issue a permit for killing an alligator above
a certain size if it has been classified as a nuisance. It is against
the law to remove the animal and relocate it somewhere else, even miles
away. It can only be killed.
turn your lake into a feeding station for alligators. In most states,
if you feed an alligator you are sentencing it to death. Live and let
live is the best motto for dealing with alligators, and indeed most
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