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Gators not expected here
June 11, 2013 - Jim Smith
A story appeared in The Daily Iberian in New Iberia pointed out an issue in that part of southwest Louisiana that shouldn't be an issue in the Mid-Ohio Valley ... at least not since "Bones" escaped confinement in July 2011 and roamed Quincy Hill for a couple of days.
Bones, a five-foot alligator, was a pet kept in a pen in a back yard for several years without any issues.
The Daily Iberian story about the busiest months of alligator season being upon those in Cajun Country got me thinking about Bones.
McKenzie Womack, a staffer at the D.I., wrote:
"Alligators are the most active when temperatures reach between 82 and 92 degrees because they rely on external sources to regulate their body temperatures, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has already received 54 complaints for alligator nuisances this year. But that's just complaints to the New Iberia office. On a statewide basis, the department will receive around 2,500 to 3,000 complaints a year, said Alligator Program Manager Noel Kinler.
"There are 63 nuisance alligator hunters throughout the state. They are appointed by Wildlife and Fisheries. Although they are unpaid, the nuisance hunter can charge $30 for his or her services if the alligator is less than 6 feet long.
"'Generally, if an alligator is larger than 6 feet, the skin value is sufficient enough to pay for the hunter to cover his expenses. When a hunter goes to answer a complaint, he's typically trying to catch and harvest the gator,' Kinler said.
"The hunter usually will set a baited hook to lure the alligator. The hunter will then go check on the alligator the next day and shoot the alligator. In some cases, if the hunter can access it immediately, he or she will put a noose around the alligator and capture it that day, Kinler said.
"Wildlife and Fisheries does not recommend releasing bigger alligators because they will not stay where the hunters put them. Kinler said the alligators have a homing mechanism which may result in the alligators going back to the same spot where the hunters caught them, or the alligator may show up on someone else's property.
"'Anywhere in the state you can encounter an alligator. They end up in places where they shouldn't be. It could be a ditch in a yard, under a carport, under the car, in a drainage canal. We've seen them in pretty much all circumstances.'
"'These things have been around since the dinosaurs. They're like cockroaches — they survive anything … Alligators are like a lot of diseases. They don't discriminate, so I get to meet a lot of people, and I enjoy that. They're always so happy when you're hauling an alligator off.'
"There are about 1.5 million alligators in Coastal Louisiana, which is basically south of I-10, Kinler said. Ninety-five percent of the alligators in Louisiana are in coastal marshes.
"For a female alligator, the maximum size is 9 feet long. For a male, it's about 12 or 13 feet. The average alligator size would be small because as the alligators grow, they suffer more mortality, Kinler said."
Southwest Louisiana was a fascinating place to live and work, but there were several things you knew you were going to see frequently: nutria everywhere, crawfish in every ditch, eels in flooded streets, fire ants and their nearly indestructible mounds , poisonous spiders and snakes, flying roaches, armadillos on their back along the side of the road ... and GATORS.
You learned very quickly that caution and awareness of surroundings were the name of the game in Cajun Country.
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