Although Florida needs to hire more alligator trappers, filling the positions could prove difficult due to the high price of gas and the lack of demand for alligator hides.
Forty years ago there were so few alligators left in the U.S., they were put on the endangered species list. Now, wildlife experts estimate there are about 1 million alligators roaming through Florida's wild spaces and as state’s human population has grown to over 17 million people, the two species are frequently coming into conflict. Reports of alligators in swimming pools, backyards and even in homes have been keeping alligator trappers working for the state increasingly busier with each passing year. On average, the trappers get around 13,000 complaints and catch several thousand nuisance alligators each year and the numbers keep rising. In 2010, the most recent year with a final total, the state trappers caught 5,856 alligators with an average size of 6.7 feet long.
The state's nuisance alligator trapping program was initiated back in 1978 to deal with the wayward critters that were found in places they weren’t wanted. When the trappers catch an alligator that is 4 feet or longer that is considered to be a threat to people, pets or property, they kill it instead of turning it loose again. Florida spends $210,000 a year paying the trappers a $30-per-gator bounty, but the trappers have traditionally made most of their money selling the hides. Although there has been good demand for alligator meat in past years, the present weak economy has put a dent in the most profitable side of the business, selling the hides. Most of the hides that are sold now come from farm-raised alligators and the hides from the wild alligators are not worth as much.
Although Florida alligator hides used to attract buyers from around the world, the economic problems in Europe have knocked out most of the buyers from that continent and even Japan, a nation that used to buy a lot of Florida’s alligator hides, hasn’t really been purchasing much since it was struck by the tsunami in 2011. At the same time, the cost of catching wild alligators has risen well above the $30-per-gator bounty due to the current high price of gasoline. When a trapper has to drive 45 miles to catch a nuisance alligator and there is little demand for the meat or hide, the price of gas can make the deal a negative equation for many trappers in the business today.
Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to make some changes to the program in order to keep up with the exploding alligator population in the state. The biggest proposed change will be instead of assigning a single trapper to cover an entire county, the wildlife agency wants to sign contracts with more trappers to cover strategically determined complaint loads when a coverage need occurs. It does appear there will be some job openings in Florida for anyone who wants to deal with catching alligators for a living, but finding and hiring the extra trappers to handle the complaints might be a difficult task for the state right now due the current underwater economics of alligator-trapping. Until the price of gas goes down or the value of alligator hides goes back up, the task currently sounds more like an adventure than a real paying job.
Others Also Viewed
Top 5 Holiday Events held in FloridaFlorida is an ideal location to spend some of the colder holiday months, because, even during the winter, the sun is shining and the beaches are ...