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06 May 2016

See Ya Later, Alligator


One of the nice things about living in a marina in southern Florida is watching the wildlife from my boat. I can see fish jumping in the water, turtles tapping on my hull and the occasional manatee floating on by. I can also see alligators swimming around my boat, which is both thrilling and scary at the same time.

I’ve actually gotten pretty used to seeing alligators lurking about. I figure if I leave them alone, they’ll leave me alone. Seems sensible, doesn’t it?

Apparently, not everyone shares the same philosophy. Some people at the marina had been feeding the resident alligators. That’s not really my definition of leaving them alone. Once you start feeding alligators, they lose their fear of humans and then they can become a big problem. A really big problem. The kind of problem with really sharp teeth that thinks a small dog or cat would be a delicious snack and that a 5 year old child would be a tasty supper.

So, it was time to call in the alligator trapper to deal with the problem.

I was walking back from the shower when I heard someone ask some of the kids running around the dock if they had seen the alligator being trapped. My ears perked up. Sure, I was eavesdropping, but this is why one should eavesdrop on a regular basis – it’s how you find out about exciting stuff happening, like alligator trapping.

I dumped my shower bag off on my boat and made my way over to see what was happening.

Turns out that I missed Fred being trapped. Fred is the smaller of the two alligators that made their home at the marina. Fred is a good name, don’t you think? My bloggy pal from S/V Smitty, who was here doing some work on their boat, named him Fred when she saw him swimming near the docks.

But, I did get to see the second half of the show, when the really big guy was trapped. He doesn’t have a name. I’m thinking Gus or Maurice.

It was actually a long and complicated process. The trapper hooked the alligator with a fishing line with a float on it and then tried to reel him in. Gus (I decided to go with Gus) was a clever chappie and swam over to the bank where he snagged the line around a tree root or something.

So, the trapper hung out and waited. I got bored and hot and went back to my boat for a snack and some sunscreen. When I came back, the trapper tried reeling him in again and the line broke. Then he hooked the line with another pole and went at it again.

“Are you relocating them?” I asked, while cautiously looking over the side of the dock to make sure that Gus hadn’t snuck under that when we weren’t looking.

“They’re going to be taken to an alligator farm,” the trapper said as he reeled the alligator in towards the dock.

I had visions of an alligator farm being a well fenced in area full of swamps for the alligators to frolic in and grassy banks for them to nap on in the afternoon sun. It seemed ideal – the alligators would live out their lives in a peaceful sanctuary and people could let their kids play and safely walk their dogs and cats along the docks at the marina without worry.

What I didn’t realize until later was that the trapper didn’t say that he was relocating the alligators, just that he was taking them to the farm. There’s a difference. Relocation, in my mind, is like the witness protection program. You go someplace new, leave your past behind and are safe from people who wish you harm. Taking them to the farm is entirely different. It’s a place where you farm alligators for their meat and skin. Sure, the gators went someplace new, but they weren’t safe from harm.

Turns out that Florida has a “healthy and stable” alligator population (1.3 million alligators live here!) and, as a result, nuisance alligators aren’t relocated. If you did try to relocate them, the alligators already living there would get pissed off and everyone would start fighting. Plus, alligators will try to return to their home base and be all that more difficult to trap again. When you read the Florida Fish and Wildlife website, it makes sense in a logical sort of way. Although, as we all know, logic can be overrated.

I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know on the day what the future had in store for the Fred and Gus. It probably would have made the day a bit less exciting and a bit more sad.

But, nonetheless, it was fascinating to watch as the trapper got Gus up to the side of the dock and, with the help of another guy, got a grappling hook onto him, hauled him up on the dock and sat on him to tape his mouth shut. I kept my distance while this was going on, naturally.





Then, they “walked” the alligator down the dock and over to the grassy area, where the trapper took a well-deserved rest (after all Gus was over 5’ in length and around 150 lbs, which wouldn’t have been easy to wrestle with), while we all gawked at Gus.






I’m keeping my eyes open, because I’m pretty sure some other alligators will move into this territory. Hopefully, nobody feeds them this time.

Have you ever seen an alligator (or crocodile) close up and personal? What do you think about alligator trapping and farming?

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24 comments:

  1. Great post and pics but I don't think I'd have wanted to get that close.

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    1. He had his snout taped shut and was tied up so I felt kind of safe getting pretty close to him.

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  2. I've lived in Florida long enough to see both. Florida has so much wildlife that is adversely affected by all us humans- as a bleeding heart animal person, it makes me sad. :-( -Lucy

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  3. I was going to suggest Clarence as a name(after my maternal grandfather), but now I'm glad you went with Gus. RIP, guys.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. I think Clarence would be a great name for a manatee.

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  4. Feeding wildlife is doing them a disservice. A huge disservice and this is the endgame.

    I'm sorry that these two had to pay the price for folks that just don't know the proper way to respect wildlife.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I can only imagine the people who fed the gators had no idea that they were doing something wrong. I hope so at least.

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  5. Well that's just sad. I'm sorry for the alligators since they were minding their own business and just being reptiles. I'm going to try not to think about what happens at an alligator farm. And possibly put a mild curse on the people who think wild animals are pets. The curse will be lifted when they learn their lesson. I'm feeling particularly snarky today. Also, I thought that big guy's name was Max. We don't have cool wildlife like alligators in our marina. We did have a grey whale recently, but that's not a good thing. Turns out, the whale was dying. I was pretty bummed out about that one. The world of wild animals is cruel, indeed.

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    1. Max is another great name for a manatee. Max the Manatee. Has a nice ring to it. We occasionally see manatees in the marina. The next time I do, I'll ask it if its name is Max.

      A shame about the whale :-(

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  6. Sucks that people started feeding the gators, I hope that any other gators in the marina don't meet a similar fate! Great post, fun read and great pics :o) Thx

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    1. There's another alligator in the marina. Hopefully, he can live out his life peacefully.

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  7. I feel sad for them too. It's not their fault that someone fed them and corrupted their behaviour. I'm sorry they are going to end up as meat and handbags :-(
    The Glasgow Gallivanter

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  8. I saw that sign and immediately thought of that restaurant in Destin called Fudpucker's. They have live alligators at the restaurant.

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    1. There's gators everywhere in Florida, aren't there :-)

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  9. I was in Tampa years ago for a meeting at some fancy resort. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door at the condo I was in and saw an alligator on the walk. I was told that they come up on dry land at night to rest. Are you kidding me? Someone said they cannot move fast until their body temp rises in the sun. Not much reassurance for me.

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    1. I don't think I would have been reassured by that either :-)

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  10. I have absolutely no experience with alligators...I prefer to keep it that way. We have all kinds of problems with (expletive morons), (sorry, I just want to slap somebody sometimes), people who think that feeding, keeping, or getting too close to wild animals is a good thing. They lose their fear of humans, and ultimately have to be killed due to becoming a threat to the next person to show up. Like last summer, a bear was too close to a major highway, everyone stopped to take a photo with their phones, and someone tossed in food. Everyday this took place, with people getting closer, and closer, until the bear was getting belligerent protecting his food source, and Fish and Game had to shoot it. Totally humans at fault. Okay...off my soapbox now.... (tell me what you really think, Donna) I love wildlife, and love to see them, - from a respectable distance, and with NO interference in their daily lives.

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    1. I remember when we were in Yosemite and some kid was feeding the deer while his parents weren't watching. When we pointed it out to the parents so that they could put a stop to it, they just shrugged their shoulders as though it was no big deal. Not great when parents are teaching kids behaviors that aren't good for wild animals. See - I've got a soapbox too :-)

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  11. Oh, how very sad... Humans have taken over the world, and it's the animals—who were here first—that end up paying the price. With their lives, with their suffering. Ugh.

    It was wonderful to meet you during the A2Z, Ellen, and I'm looking forward to many return visits throughout the year :)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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    1. It is sad, isn't it. I'll definitely be popping back by your blog :-)

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  12. This makes me mad and sad. Why do people even get the idea of feeding wildlife? If there wasn't enough food for them out there, the animals would have moved on. They don't need us and especially they don't need human food. Feeding wildlife with human food is just not okay. I have to stop myself from cursing at people when I see them feeding potato chips to squirrels or chipmunks. It's their death sentence. Even worse when the wildlife is bigger and becomes a problem so that they need to be killed. I hate it, plain and simple.

    I enjoyed your story though and had to think of the late Steve Irwin, the "crocodile hunter" from Australia. Of course he would never have taken the crocs to a farm.

    This was a lovely visit. I think I will be back.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Carola! I have to hope that people who feed animals don't realize that they're doing a bad thing. Otherwise, it would be too depressing to think about :-(

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