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John's Journal... Entry 263, Day 5


Gator Hunting Saves The Wetlands

Editor's Note: I can’t think of anything more exciting than hunting big bull aggressive alligators with a bow. This week I’ll take you with me on a thrilling alligator hunt. Alligator hunting is primarily a southern sport since gators don’t do well in snow. Because regulations vary from state to state on seasons, bag limits and equipment you can use, always check the laws in the state where you plan to hunt.

Alligator hunting has grown in popularity throughout Florida in the last several years. Many observers have credited this sport with saving the Florida wetlands. According to Roy Burnsed with Florida's Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, "Alligator hunting is saving Florida's wetlands. Harvesting alligators gives landowners an economic incentive not to drain wetlands to create cattle pastures." The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission has recognized that, unless the farmers can reap some benefit from their wetlands, they will continue to drain these wildlife-rich areas and turn them into pastures.

"You don't have to feed, vaccinate or care for alligators," Burnsed said. "Because the alligators are so territorial and cannibalize each other when they're overcrowded, by harvesting a certain number of alligators off the wetlands each year, landowners can actually increase the number of gators their lands will produce. A big bull alligator harvested will be replaced by two small alligators in that same area." The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission sets the limit each year on the number of alligators hunters can take on any portion of land in the state. Florida has learned that harvesting alligators protects the wetlands, increases gator population and provides additional income to landowners. The sportsmen who hunt alligators in Florida provide income for the state and actually help implement wildlife management and practice land conservation.

Rufus Godwin of Chumuckla, Florida, learned the fate of his missing hunting dog Flojo and six more hunting hounds when trappers slit the belly of a 500-pound alligator. Trappers found the dogs' tags and collars in the gator. Flojo, a $5,000 Walker fox-hunting hound, hunted in the forest about 45 miles northeast of Pensacola when she disappeared. Four days later, Godwin used the tracking device for her electronic collar to look for her. He caught a faint signal as did his friend with him from a collar worn by a dog he last had seen several weeks earlier. "When he walked up to this swamp hole, suddenly the boxes beeped continuously," Godwin said. "Because they went wide open, we knew then we were dealing with a gator." State-contracted gator hunters captured the 10-foot, 11-inch reptile. The belly of the beast contained a collection of dog collars, one from a hunting dog that disappeared 14-years ago. Biologists estimated the gator to be 50 years old.

To learn more about alligator hunting, go to http://www.wlf.state.la.us/apps/netgear/page1.asp, and http://myfwc.com/ or http://www.wildflorida.org/gators/default.htm.




Check back each day this week for more about THE GREAT GATOR HUNT ...

Day 1 - The Beginning Of The Hunt
Day 2 - The First Hunt
Day 3 - War With The Gator
Day 4 - The Final Battle
Day 5 - Gator Hunting Saves The Wetlands

John's Journal