The United States Fish & Wildlife Service, along with the State of Florida, is allowing, for the first time ever, sport hunting of alligators. The Wildlife Service “awarded” eleven licenses to alligator sport hunters, allowing each hunter to kill two alligators each.
The hunt kicked off last night, August 15th, 2014, and runs until the end of October, 2014
First of all, calling these people “hunters” is too kind. Let’s call them what they are: Legal Poachers. This is the FIRST time the US government has opened up a refuge area to poachers.
(Surely there are some nice hunters out there who don’t kick their significant others or harm little kittens, but I call them “maniacal” and “poachers” because the nature and manner of the way they kill is cruel and unusual – a long and painful death for the alligator.)
One protestor last night, musing over the ridiculousness of the situation, told me that allowing the slaughter of alligators in a protected sanctuary is akin to allowing a child predator to work in a daycare.
My problem with the “hunt” is the manner in which it is performed. The alligators suffer a slow death. After a relentless chase, the animal is snagged with a barbed hook that has an arrow at the end of it – it looks like a large cattle prod – while the alligator is then pierced with hooks and harpoons – in an effort to kill it.
The goal of the kill is to pierce the brain of the animal. But, the alligator’s brain is very tiny, so it could take many tries (stabs) before the animal is killed. Generally, I’m told, after being pulled from the water, death takes a while and the alligator does suffer in the process. According to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida:
“Death is rarely quick and alligators may be left to suffer long after being pulled from the water.”
So, this is our United States Government saying, “Poaching is Okay, Folks.”
Many people conclude that the reason this hunt is being allowed is a result of over population of the alligator. That is simply not true. If the area was overrun with alligators, don’t you think they’d give out more than eleven hunting licenses? If alligtor over-population was such a concern, why then allow only eleven hunters the opportunity to kill only two gators apiece? Makes no sense.
Alligator over population is simply not the issue.
One hunter last night, his T-Shirt ablaze with NRA 2nd Amendment propaganda, told the protestors he is “killing the big alligators so the baby alligators could grow up and live longer.” HUH? Then this very same “right-thinking” whack-job accused the small and very sane group of protestors of spreading the rumor that “hunters use baby puppies as alligator bait.” Seriously! No one would dare think, let alone SAY such a thing! But this is what the hunter claimed the tree-hugging protestors said.
Then, to allow his point about the puppies as bait to sink in, this nutcase stood in front of the protestors, arms flailing, loudly insisting that the protestors were “sick to accuse the hunters of using puppies as bait!” Yes, he went on to say, “protestors were idiots to even suggest such a thing!” (Okay, sir, the protestors got that message you can quiet down about the puppies now, okay?) Okay.
So, yes, there are issues with some hunters. (If life were fair, then gun owners and hunters would be forced to undergo mental health tests prior to having a gun and/or hunting license. )
Granted, of the thousands of poachers who applied for the 11 licenses available, only eleven where granted. These eleven poachers are only “allowed” to bag kill two alligators total. However, the glorious Loxahatchee River of Grass is an immense area – miles and miles of swamps – who is going to assure that each poacher stops at only two alligator kills? It’s simply not going to happen.
About the photographs: There are some photographs of the protest and the protestors, but most images here focus on the exquisite beauty of the area that is the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the entrances into the Loxahatchee Wildlife Preserve – the part of the refuge where the hunters deploy their boats and the protestors gathered.
A ranting hunter tries to provoke the protestors
My initial view of the area. So lovely.
You see this everywhere in Loxahatchee.
Looking through the leaves at a river in Loxahatchee
As the sun was setting in Loxahatchee
A cross with the words “RIP David Bell” written. I think it’s also for the soon to die alligators
Poachers prepare to launch and begin the hunt
Another shot of the cross – a soon-to-be sad scene for the alligators
A bridge in the area
A kind of a hill in the area
Like a mirror, the river reflects part of the Loxahatchee sanctuary.
A Black Vulture looms over the area. They are in abundance in Loxahatchee