Monday, 12 March 2007 00:00
Gator Management MeetingWritten by WGCU Newsroom
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission holds a public meeting Tuesday night in Fort Myers to find out if better options exist for managing Florida’s alligators.
There may now be more than a million alligators in Florida – no one’s counted in a decade. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decided last fall to evaluate its options for improving the way it manages the reptiles.
It conducted a Web-based survey and the response showed Floridians to be fairly evenly divided over whether alligator harvest regulations are too restrictive or too lenient. So it set up public meetings around the state to learn more.
FWC’s alligator management program coordinator Harry Dutton says it’s time to revisit what are now outdated rules.
“We’ve been down the path of alligator management for a little over 20 years and we’ve never gone through a comprehensive review of the program. Many of the approaches we’ve taken and continue to take were based on information that’s starting to be dated. The alligator population isn’t at the same place it was 20 years ago and there might be room for doing things a little differently.”
The state wants to reduce the populations of alligators in residential and high recreational–use areas. The meeting Tuesday night in Fort Myers will focus on public safety and nuisance alligators. It’s at 6:30 in the Lee County Commission building.
The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says there were more then 275 unprovoked alligator attacks on humans since 1948. About 18 of those people died. Several recent attacks took place in Lee County, resulting in three of those deaths.
A public hearing in Fort Myers Tuesday night will focus on public safety, while the state evaluates its alligator management program.
FWC’s alligator management program coordinator Harry Dutton says Southwest Florida is a core nuisance alligator complaint area people they are tolerant of humans.
“Alligators are uniquely different than a big mammal like a panther who requires just vast amount of wilderness and basically people-free space to really thrive. Whereas the alligator, they’re more like a deer in terms of not minding living in close proximity to people. Sharing a shoreline with a community doesn’t seem to bother them.”
Other key areas up for review are recreational and commercial harvests and alligator conservation. An FWC online survey found Floridians are evenly divided on whether the state’s alligator harvest regulations are either too restrictive or too lenient.
The meeting is Tuesday at 6:30 at the Lee County Commission building.