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TX Press: Shooting of gator stirs up protests


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Posted by W von Papinešu on May 02, 2003 at 21:52:10:

In Reply to: TX Press Follow-up x2 posted by Jasonzilla on May 02, 2003 at 11:12:38:

ORANGE LEADER (Orange, Texas) 01 May 03 Shooting of gator stirs up protests (Chester Moore, Jr.)
A Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) game warden responded Monday to a complaint about a nine-foot nuisance alligator in the Shadow Bend subdivision in Fort Bend County.
According to TPWD officials, when he arrived, the warden used his catchpole to lasso the alligator and attempted to pull it by hand, but it behaved aggressively.
He then tied it to his truck and towed it away from the crowd of bystanders so that he could use his firearm safely to kill the alligator.
Someone in the neighborhood caught the event on video and submitted it to Houston-area television news stations.
Some members of the media and citizens charged the warden and TPWD with being "cruel" to the alligator.
On one news broadcast, a witness said, "The gator was just sitting there peacefully."
I know we live in a country with free speech, but ignorant people really should keep their mouths shut about some things.
Just as I would not make a public statement about nuclear physics, uninformed people shouldn't make public statements about wildlife.Wes Comment: And this sports reporters' claim to wildlife knowledge is ...?
According to reports, the gator was allowing people to approach it within a few feet.
Gators are accustomed to lying motionless for long periods, but they can move suddenly with surprising speed and make lightning fast attacks.
Alligators are not pets and people should not treat them as such, no matter how "tame" they appear.
It has been a long time since a fatal gator attack occurred in Texas, but Florida has them every year.
Texas has more than 200,000 alligators, so shooting the gator did not negatively affect the population. Even if it did, the game warden did the right thing by shooting the thing.
The gator was posing a danger to people so it had to go.
"We try to relocate smaller alligators five feet in length or less, but this is becoming difficult because there are fewer places that will accept them," said TPWD media director, Lydia Saldana.
"The American alligator is by no means rare in Southeast Texas. Most zoos, preserves and ranches that want alligators have them. Nuisance alligators have typically lost their natural fear of people.
"If someone has fed them or if they have found food near people, they may seek areas where people are and become aggressive.
"That's why we take firm steps to eliminate alligators over six feet long that have become dangerously accustomed to humans. We believe the safety of our game wardens, neighborhood residents and pets justify this approach," she added.
Apparently the sticking point to some witnesses and media officials was that the gator was dragged behind the truck and then shot.
Apparently, they thought that was "cruel."
TPWD officials said it is not a typical Texas Parks and Wildlife practice to tow a live alligator behind a vehicle.
In a statement sent out to the media Monday night, TWWD officials said, "We believe our game warden did what he felt was the most effective course of action at the time. However, as a result of this incident we are evaluating our practices regarding nuisance alligator removal. We plan to assess the situation and reaffirm to our workforce that we want to use the most expedient and humane methods possible to deal with dangerous nuisance animals."
There is no need to make an assessment.
Let us remember, this is an alligator we are talking about here, not a human being or even a mammal, for that matter.
It is a reptile with a brain the size of a pea.
I believe in treating any animal humanely and with the utmost respect, but I would rather have an alligator suffer a few minutes of pain than a warden lose his leg trying to wrestle with the thing or a child get eaten alive if the creature was left alone.
This is simply another ploy for the animal rights friendly media to take a shot at good, common sense conservation efforts.
Was dragging the gator to a safe location and shooting it the most politically correct thing to do?
No.
Was it, however, the best thing that could be done in the situation?
Yes, it was.
I guarantee you the 12-foot gator that dragged an eight-year old girl into a canal in Florida back a few years ago and ate her alive was not worried about cruelty.
It simply did what alligators do best: kill and eat.
If people are concerned about the welfare of gators, they should stop feeding them. This gator was obviously fed and conditioned to be around people like some of the ones people feed in the Sea Rim and McFaddin areas and along Highway 82 in Louisiana.
It might be neat to watch a big gator get up close to people, but those feelings will change to horror when a human gets hurt.
People should leave gators alone and they will most likely get the same respect from the big lizards.
An alligator with no fear of people will either end up hurting someone or law enforcement officials will shoot it before it does.
I say we err on the side of humans, not reptiles.



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