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Posted by W von Papinešu on March 19, 2003 at 20:24:51:
NAPLES DAILY NEWS (Florida) 10 March 03 In the Know: Relocated nuisance gators doesn't always work (Lisa Fleming)
Why do they always have to kill the alligators they catch? We are taking over their territory. Why couldn't the one at the beach on Marco Island be taken back into the wild? ó Katie Smith, 3rd Grade, Seacrest Country Day School, Naples
Lt. Chris Sella, with the West Palm Beach office of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and coordinator of the Alligator Nuisance Control Program South Region, says that relocating the alligators is not as easy as it sounds and doesn't always work. Alligators are very territorial, and relocating them to an area other than from where they came could place them in a hostile environment, especially during mating season which begins in April and runs through June.
"The areas of land available can only hold so many alligators. Overcrowding of swamplands such as Everglades National Park, Ten Thousand Islands and Big Cypress National Preserve are getting near their capacity for the number of alligators they can support," Sella says. There are between 1 and 2 million wild alligators statewide. Last year, his department received more than 4,600 calls for all of South Florida about nuisance alligators. Forty-two percent of them had to be removed and destroyed. The alligator has to meet the following criteria to be considered a nuisance:
- Over 4 feet in length
- Lack of fear for humans (does not move when you approach it)
- Attacks fishing bait or takes fish off the line
- Aggressive toward humans or pets
- Chronically in one area
Officials must take into consideration the public's safety
Feeding, harassing or possession of an alligator is a second-degree misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.