Dustin Bockman caught and killed a very large alligator over the weekend with some friends. He shot the thirteen foot creature with a bow and arrow, in Mississippi’s first statewide official alligator hunt. It was a record-setting catch, but this seems to be sort of a sad accomplishment, because the alligator did nothing to humans ever. In other words, it had not attacked or harmed humans, so killing it seems more about bragging rights than good sense.
In fact, the largest alligators are reducing the number of smaller alligators by eating them, “Large average sizes of alligators in unhunted populations are largely attributable to the fact that alligators are cannibalistic. One study found that each predator-size alligator eats about 2.5 prey-size alligators per year.” (Source: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks)
It has been thought by some that these smaller, prey-size alligators ranging from four to seven feet long are typically the nuisance alligators, meaning that they get into areas where there are humans, such as backyards, golf courses, roadsides, parks and swimming pools.
One might argue that it was just one very large alligator that was killed in Mississippi, but actually another one of about the same size was also killed in the same time period.
It has been estimated that Mississippi has 32,000 – 38,000 wild alligators. Fourteen counties don’t have records of alligators, but Jackson county has about 7,500 and Hancock has 3,900.
The state department of wildlife, fisheries and parks has estimated that alligators in Mississippi are larger than in other Southern states. Over twenty percent of alligators at Little Sunflower River in Yazoo and Sharkey Counties were estimated to be over ten feet long. The fact that there are large alligators in these areas is not a problem, if there are not many humans around. These animals do not hunt and eat humans.
One of the recent gator killers has said that if anyone beats his record, he will go out and try to find a larger one to kill. Alligators are easy targets for violence because they are not cute and don’t seem to have emotions like the animals we generally have affection for like cats, dogs and birds.
Hunting proponents generally say that hunting generates revenue for states through the tags, licenses and permits.
Image Credit: Dustin Bockman